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Jjate Secretary to the Wesleyan Missionary Society. 


There is a sort of God's dear servants who walk in perfectness ; and they have a 
degree of clarity and Divine knowledge more than we can discourse of, and more 
certain than the demonstrations of geometry, brighter than the sun, and inde- 
ficient as the light of heaven. As a flame touches a flame, and combines into 
splendour and to glory ; so is the spirit of a man united unto Christ by the Spirit 
of God. — Jeremy Taylor. 




J. Collord, Printer. 



The years 1832 and 1833 were a season of great and affecting mor- 
tality among the Wesleyan ministers. During this period several men 
of leading influence in that body were separated from their brethren 
and the Church, and called to resign a charge which they had fulfilled 
with superior fidelity and success. Of this number the most distin- 
guished were, Dr. Adam Clarke, and the Rev. Richard Watson ; both 
of whom were universally esteemed and beloved for their piety, attain- 
ments, and usefulness. The loss of these excellent men has been 
painfully felt ; and their memory will long be cherished by a large 
circle of friends, and by the numerous congregations to whom they 
were accustomed to preach the word of life. 

In the following pages an attempt is made to trace the personal 
history of Mr. Watson ; and though the narrative has been compiled 
under many disadvantages, chiefly arising from the pressure of other 
engagements, it is presumed that the work contains a faithful, though 
inadequate, record of his life and labours. The writer will always 
consider it as one of his greatest privileges, and one for which he will 
ever be thankful to Divine Providence, that he was favoured with the 
friendship of this great and good man, and for several years lived in 
habits of constant intercourse and correspondence with him. They 
have conversed together on almost every subject of theology, and of 
public interest, as well as upon all the literary projects in which Mr. 
Watson was engaged. To give an honest and just view of his habits, 
character, and opinions, has been the writer's aim ; but no one is more 
sensible than himself that his descriptions fall vastly short of the ori- 
ginal. It would have required a pen like his own to do full justice to 
Mr. Watson's intellectual endowments, and his great exertions in the 
cause of Christianity. 

To those friends who have kindly furnished materials for this 
volume, the cordial thanks of the writer are due, and are very sincerely 
tendered. It is unnecessary to specify the names of the parties in this 
place, as they are generally mentioned in the body of the work, in 
connection with their respective communications. Mr. Watson's cor- 
respondence, of which many specimens are given, will be found to 
possess a more than ordinary value, on account of its piety, elegance, 
and variety. 


No man was more deeply impressed than the subject of these me- 
moirs, with, the conviction, that devotedness to God is the principal 
end of human life ; and it is earnestly hoped that the exhibition of his 
own character will tend to promote this most important of all objects. 
Such an example of sanctified talent, and of holy zeal, in the midst of 
pain and wasting disease, has seldom been witnessed. He had learned 
the great practical lesson of connecting the labours of time with the 
awards of eternity ; and hence arose his impressions concerning both 
the sacredness and vanity of the present life. 

" Sacred how high, and vain how low, 
He knew not here, but died to know." 

London, March 25th, 1834 



Mr. Watson's Parentage— Birth— Delicate Health— Early Education— Reli- 
gious Training — Death of a Sister — Fraternal Conduct — Removal to Lincoln — 
Education in that City— Proposal that he should enter the Army— Love of 
Reading — Apprenticed to a Joiner — Personal Appearance — Moral Character — 
Conversion — Fervent Piety — Singular Accidents, .... Page 13 


Developement of Mr. Watson's mental Character — Death of his Grandmother 
—Beginning of his Ministry — State of the Villages near Lincoln — Labours as a 
Locaf Preacher— Opposition— Visit to Newark— Freedom from his Apprentice- 
ship — Labours in the Newark Circuit — Appointed to the Ashby-de-la-Zouch 
Circuit — Character and Usefulness — Thirst for Knowledge — Desultory Nature 
of his Studies — Removal to the Castle-Donington Circuit — Henry's Method for 
Prayer — Winchesterianism, ......... "4 


Mr. Watson's removal to the Leicester Circuit — Method of Study — Case of 
strong Temptation — Poetical Composition — Appointment to the Derby Circuit — 
Success of his preaching in Derby — First Publication — Disputes in the Methodist 
Connection — Character and Labours in the Derby Circuit — Admission into full 
Connection with the Conference — Appointment to the Hinckley Circuit — Begins 
the Study of Hebrew — Theological Studies — Indiscretion — Reported to have 
embraced heterodox Opinions — Unkindly treated — Retires from the Itinerant 
Ministry — Did not hold the Tenets imputed to him — Enters into Business — 
Marriage — Divine Call to the Ministry — Becomes a private Member of the 
Methodist New Connection— Enters upon the Ministry in that Body — Appoint- 
ment to the Manchester Circuit, ......... 37 


Mr. Watson's Satire upon the immoderate Use of Instrumental Music in Public 
Worship — Approval of the Discipline of the New Connection — Memoirs of William 
Bradbury and John Cash — Sermon on Religious Meditation — Sermon on Sunday 
Schools — Letter to Mr. Edmondson — Zeal and Labours — Appointed to the Liver- 
pool Circuit — Letters to the Messrs. Faulkner — Verses on Charity — Admitted 
into full Connection with the Conference — Writes the Annual Address to the 
Societies — Appointed to Liverpool — Writes a History of that Town, and of the 
Reign of George III. — Jeu.d'esprit — Commences the Liverpool Courier — Letter 
to Mr. John Faulkner — -Writes the Address to the Societies in 1808 — Returned 
a third Year to Liverpool — Nature of his Preaching — Publishes an Answer to 
Mr. Roscoe, 54 


Failure of Mr. Watson's health — Returned to Liverpool as a Supernumerary — 
Letter to Mr. John Faulkner— Writes Verses entitled " Enjoyments" — Memoir 
of the Rev. James Parry — Mr. Watson's views of Church Government — The 
Rev. Robert Nicholson — Providential Escape — Appointed to the Manchester 
Circuit — Publishes a Letter on Lord Sidmouth's Bill — Character of that Measure 
— Failure of Mr. Watson's health — Retirement from the Methodist New Connec- 
tion — Returns to Liverpool — Unites himself to the Wesleyan Body— Letters to 
Mr. Absalom Watkin, 78 



Mr. Watson returns to the Wesleyan Itinerancy — Appointed to the Wakefield 
Circuit — Character of his Preaching — Assists at the re-opening of the Methodist 
Chapel at Halifax — Letter to his dying Father — Letter to Mr. Makinson — Preaches 
at the opening of a new Chapel at Armley — Letter to Mr. Makinson — Matthew 
Shackleton — Letters to Mr. Watkin — Outline of a Sermon on the Trial of Faith, 

Page 93 


Departure of Dr. Coke from England — Formation of a Methodist Missionary 
Society in Leeds — State of the Methodist Missions — Mr. Watson's Sermon on 
that Occasion — Writes an Address in behalf of the Methodist Missions — Speech 
at a Missionary Meeting at Halifax — Assists in forming a Missionary Society in 
Hull, and another at Sheffield — Speech on a similar Occasion in Wakefield — 
Letters to Messrs. Makinson and Watkin, 107 


Restoration of Peace in Europe — Mr. Watson's Sermon on that Occasion — Mis- 
sionary Societies formed in various Places — Mr. Watson's Zeal in the Missiona- 
ry Cause — Diversity of Opinion concerning Missionary Meetings — Decision of 
Conference on the Subject — Influence of Missionary Meetings upon the Method- 
ist Connection — Mr. Watson's Conduct in his Circuit — Reproof to an impatient 
Hearer — Removal to the Hull Circuit — Opening of a new Chapel in Hull — Mr. 
Watson's Usefulness — His Views of congregational Singing — Letter to Mr. Wal- 
ton, of Wakefield — Missionary Meeting in London — Letter to Mr. Walton — Tale 
of Robbery — Death of Dr. Coke — Mr. Watson opens the new Chapel at Newark 
— Attack upon him in one of the Hull Newspapers — His Letter in self defence 
— Letter to Mr. Walton — Mr. Watson's Conduct as a Colleague — Providential 
Deliverance 123 


Mr. Watson visits London to assist at a Missionary Anniversary — His Sermon 
in the City-Road Chapel — Missionary Anniversary at Hull — Extract from the 
Report — False Alarm — Difficulty in preparing for the Pulpit — Mr. Watson's Re- 
moval to London — Appointed one of the General Secretaries to the Wesleyan 
Missions — Manner in which he discharged his official Duties — Letter to Mr. 
Edmondson — Letter to Dr. Ellis— Letters to Mr. Garbutt — Extracts from the 
General Missionary Report for the Year 1816, 141 


Attacks upon the West India Mission — Mr. Watson's Defence of that Mission 
— Speech at the Anniversary of the Bible Society— Conference of 1817 — Mr. 
Watson's re-appointment to London — Letter to Dr. Ellis— Missionary Report for 
1817 — Mr. Watson preaches at the opening of a new Chapel in Oxford — Singu- 
lar Adventure on that Occasion, 158 


Mr. Watson's Pamphlet on the Eternal Sonship of Christ — Extracts on the 
Use of Reason in Religion — Mr. Robert Hall's Opinion of Mr. Watson's Pam- 
phlet — Unkind Reply to it — Consequences of Dr. Clarke's Theory — Resolution 
of Conference in regard to the Doctrine of the Eternal Sonship of Christ — Plan 
of the General Wesleyan Missionary Society — Arrival of two Priests of Budhoo 
from India — Letter to Mr. Walton— Conference of 1818 — Formation of the Gene- 
ral Chapel Fund — Mr. Watson's Removal to the London West Circuit — Preaches 
before the Sunday School Union — Extracts from his Sermon — Attends an Ordi- 
nation of Missionaries at Bristol, 174 



Mr. Watson's Address in the City-Road Chapel, on the Appointment of a Num. 
ber of Missionaries — His Views of the Missionary Character and Work — Report 
of the Missionary Society for the Year 1818 — Unsettled State of the Nation — 
Mr. Watson's loyal and patriotic Exertions — Letter to Miss Smith — Embarrassed 
State of the Mission Fund— Appeal to the Public in its behalf— Annual Meeting 
of the Missionary Society in 1819 — Sir Alexander Johnston — Conference of 
1819 — Pastoral Address to the Methodist Societies — Instructions to the Wes- 
leyan Missionaries — First Report of the General Chapel Fund, . Page 192 


Missionary Report for the Year 1819— Letter to Mr. Garlmtt — Mr. Watson 
visits Cornwall, accompanied by Mr. Bunting — Mission in Southern Africa — 
Anniversary of the Missionary Society in the Year 18iJ0 — Letter to Mr. Walton 
— Conference of 1820 — Visit of Mr. Emoty, from America— Pastoral Address to 
the Methodist Societies — Mr. Watson's Appointment a third Year to the London 
West Circuit — His Correspondence with the Missionaries — Letter to the Rev. 
William D. Goy, 217 


Mr. Southey's "Life of Wesley" — Brief View of Mr. Wesley's Doctrino — Mr. 
Southey's defective Views of Religion — Mr. Watson publishes " Observations on 
Southey's Life of Wesley" — Extracts from that Work — Death of the Rev. Jo, 
seph Benson — Missionary Report for the Year 1820 — New South Wales — New. 
Zealand — The West Indies— Anniversary of the Missionary Society in 1821 — ■ 
The Rev. William Ward — Remarks on Missionary Meetings — Letter to Mr. 
Walton, . 232 


The Conference of 1821— Letter to Mr. Walton— To his Daughter— Mr. 
Watson's Appointment to the Office of Resident Missionary Secretary — Be- 
comes a private Member of a Class — Letter to the Rev. Robert Young — Mis- 
sionary Tour in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire — Letter to Mrs. Watson — Mr. 
Watson's Contributions to the Wesleyan Magazine — Doctrine of the witness of 
the Spirit — Sermon on Man magnified — Begins to write his Theological Insti- 
tutes — Missionary Report for 182] — Mission in Ceylon — New-Holland — New- 
Zealand — Western and Southern Africa — Income of the Missionary Society — 
Mr. Watson visits Cornwall — Letter to Mr. Walton, .... 250 


Mr. Watson's spirit at Missionary Anniversaries— Anniversary of the Mission- 
ary Society in 1822 — Speech of the Rev. George Collison — Instruction of Mis- 
sionaries — Letters to Dr. Ellis — Letter to the Rev. Elijah Hoole — Missionary 
Report for the year 1822 — Letter to Dr. Ellis — Mr. Watson publishes the first 
part of his Theological Institutes — Anniversary of the Missionary Society in 
1823 — Letter to Dr. Ellis— Letter to Mr. Walton — The Rev. Messrs. Sargent and 
Lloyd killed on their way to the Conference — Letter to Mr. Walton — Letter to 
Miss Walton, on the Death of her Sister — Death of the Rev. William Ward — 
Projected Mission in Palestine — Letter to Dr. M' Allum — The Rev. Charles Cook's 
Visit to Jerusalem — Mr. Watson writes in Defence of the Witness of the Spirit 
— His Sermon on "Man Magnified by the Divine Regard" — Letter on Organs in 
Methodist Chapels, 261 


Mr. Watson publishes the second Part of his Theological Institutes — Letter to 
Mr. Walton — Persecution in Barbadoes — The Argument a priori in proof of a 
First Cause — Dr. Samuel Clarke's Demonstration — Divinity of Christ— Mission* 


ary Report for 1823 — Projected Mission to Jerusalem — Mission in Ceylon — In 
the West Indies — Catechisms of the Wesleyan Methodists — Mr. Watson preaches 
on the Mission to the Negroes at the Anniversary of 1824 — Letters to Miss 
Watson, Page 280 


Mr. Watson visits Oxford — Conference of 1824 — Letters to his Daughter — 
First Report of the Anti-Slavery Society — Agitations in the West Indies — Letter 
to the Right Hon. Wilmot Horton — Letter to the Rev. Elijah Hoole — Letter to 
the Rev. Frederick England — Missionary Report of 1824 — Anniversary of the 
Missionary Society in 1825 — Letter to Mr. Garbutt — Debate in the House of 
Commons on the Riot in Barbadoes — Sir R. W. Horton — Singular Impression — 
Conference of 1825 — Address to the Societies — Letter to the Rev. Robert Young 
— Mr. Watson publishes the third Part of his Theological Institutes — Notices 
concerning it, 291 


State of the Mission Fund at the End of the Year 1825— Appeals for farther 
Exertions — Missionary Report for 1825 — Mr. Watson publishes a Tract against 
Popery — Anniversary of the Missionary Society in 182G — Loss of the Maria 
Mail Boat, and of five Missionaries, &c — Panic of 1825-6 — Mr. Watson assists 
in opening a new Chapel in Manchester — Letter to Dr. Ellis — Death of Joseph 
Butterworth, Esq. — Mr. Watson preaches and publishes his funeral Sermon — 
The British Senate — Abolition of Slavery — Mr. Watson is elected President of 
the Conference — Letters to Mrs. Watson — Mr. Watson's Conduct as President — 
Letter to a young Preacher — Mr. Watson attends a Missionary Meeting at 
Leeds — Letter to Mrs. Watson — Letter to Dr. Ellis — Mr. Watson publishes the 
fourth Part of his Theological Institutes, 309 


Missionary Report for 1826 — Letter to Mrs. Watson — Mr. Watson's Visit to 
Scotland — Letter to Mrs. Watson from Glasgow — Mr. Watson visits Cornwall 
and Ireland — Letter to Mrs. Watson — Attends the Conference in Manchester in 
1827 — Letters to Mrs. Watson — Delivers an Address to the Young Preachers — 
The most useful kind of Preaching — Mr. Watson's Appointment to Manchester 
— Private Studies — Ministry — Conduct as a Superintendent and Christian Pas. 
tor — Sermon against a Musical Festival — Personal Character — Attention to his 
Circuit, 325 


Missionary Report for 1827 — Anniversary of the Missionary Society in 1828 
— Benefit of the Scriptures — Mr. Watson publishes the fifth Part of his Theolo- 
gical Institutes — Remarks on Calvinism — Anecdote of the Rev. Rowland Hill — 
The Conference of 1828 — Attempts to subvert the Methodist Discipline— Mr. 
Watson publishes his "Affectionate Address" — Pamphlets of the Rev. Daniel 
Isaac — Two Replies to Mr. Watson's Address — Character of those Publications 
— Letter on Mr. Watson's early History — Letter on his future Appointment — 
Report of the Missionary Society for 1828 — Letter to Mr. James Nichols — Mr. 
Watson publishes the last Part of his Theological Institutes, and presents that 
Work to the Connection — The Conference of 1829 — Tribute to the Memory of 
Thomas Thompson, Esq. — Mr. Watson's Removal to London — Address at the 
Ordination of Missionaries — Letter to the Rev. John Hannah — Report of the 
Missionary Society for the year 1829 — Persecution in Jamaica, . . . 339 


Mr. Watson publishes his " Conversations for the Young" — Annual Meeting 
of the Missionary Society in 1830 — Mr. Watson's Speech — Letter to the Rev. 
Samuel Entwisle — Meeting of the Anti-Slavery Society — Resolutions of Con. 


ference on Slavery — Letter to Dr. Emory — Address to the Congregation at City- 
Road on Slavery — Mr. Watson's Sermon on God with us — Missionary Report for 
1830 — Speech at the Anti-Slavery Meeting — Address to the Methodists on Slavery 
— Supplement to the Methodist Hymn Book — Mr. Watson publishes the Life of 
Mr. Wesley— Conference of 1831, Page 363 


Appearance of the Cholera in England — Fast Day observed by the City-Road 
Congregation — Watch-Night at the City-Road — Letter to Mr. Edmondson — Re- 
port of the Missionary Society for 1831 — Persecutions in Jamaica — Mr. Watson 
visits Brighton for his Health — Completion of his Biblical Dictionary — Doctrine 
of Christian Perfection — Missionary Anniversary in 1832 — Mr. Watson's Speech 
— Literary Projects — Mr. Watson begins an Exposition of the New Testament — 
The Conference of 1832 — Letter to Mrs. Watson — Mr. Watson presents his 
Works to the Methodist Connection — His Appointment to the Office of Resident 
Secretary to the Missions — Dr. Adam Clarke — Mr. Watson's resignation of his 
Pastorship at City-Road, 398 


Letters to Mr. William Shaw — Circular Letter addressed to the Missionaries — 
Death of Dr. Adam Clarke — Death of the Rev. Thomas Stanley — Literary Project 
— Letter to Mr. Benjamin Blaine — Mr. Watson's last Sermon — Death of the Rev. 
John James — Mr. Watson's Exposition — Rapid Decline of Mr. Watson's Health 
— State of the Anti-Slavery Question — Letter to Mr. Buxton, on Negro Emanci- 
pation — Notices of Mr. Watson's last Sickness, by Mrs. Bulmer, Mr. Beecham, 
Mr. Marsden, Mr. Ince, Mr. Dixon, and Mrs. Dixon — His Death — Resolutions 
of the Missionary Committee — Mr. Watson's Funeral — Mr. Bunting's Sermon 
on his Death — Tribute to his Memory in the Missionary Report — His Character 
by the Conference — Publication of his Exposition 419 


Mr. Watson's personal Appearance — Manners — Mental Character — Attain- 
ments — Judgment and Imagination — Fine Taste — Versatility of his Talents — . 
Practical Habits — Uprightness and Consistency — Diligence — Pastoral Visitation 
— Kind Attention to Children — Temper — Effect of Disease upon his Spirits — 
Forgiving Temper — Generosity — Conduct in the Domestic Relations — Letter to 
his Son — Qualifications as Missionary Secretary — Usefulness in that Office — 
Catholic Spirit— Modesty — Powers of Conversation — Submission to the Autho- 
rity of Scripture — Letter to a Speculatist — Character of his Preaching — Manner 
in the Pulpit — Examples of powerful Eloquence — Manner of conducting Public 
Worship — Attachment to his own Denomination — Conduct as a Methodist 
Preacher— Was not a theoretic Dissenter— Regard for the established Church— 
His deep Piety — Honour put upon him in Death, 462 





Mr. Watson's Parentage — Birth— Delicate Health— Early Education— Reli- 

fious Training — Death of a Sister — Fraternal Conduct — Removal to Lincoln — 
Iducation in that City — Proposal that he should enter the Army — Love of 
Reading — Apprenticed to a Joiner — Personal Appearance — Moral Character — 
Conversion — Fervent Piety — Singular Accidents. 

Few subjects of inquiry excite deeper interest than the personal 
history of men who have been distinguished by learning, genius, or 
any peculiarities of character and conduct. The Church and the 
world, therefore, have each their favourite biographical works, in which 
their respective heroes are exhibited ; and to these they are accustomed 
to pay a more than ordinary attention. To meet the public demand 
for some authentic record of one of the most eminent men of modern 
times, the following narrative has been prepared. It suggests many 
important lessons of practical instruction; and presents, in a very 
striking view, the power and excellence of true religion, as giving 
strength and elevation to the human intellect, sanctifying a life of 
affliction, inspiring universal charity, and affording consolation and hope 
in the prospect of death and eternity. 

The Rev. Richard Watson was the son of Thomas and Ann Watson, 
and was born at Barton-upon-Humber, in Lincolnshire. His father, who 
was a native of Ledenham, near Lincoln, was the son of a respectable 
farmer ; and as the family was somewhat large, and could not be all 
conveniently employed in agriculture, he was brought up to the busi- 
ness of a saddler. The earlier years of his life were spent in Not- 
tingham ; where it is probable he served his apprenticeship. In this 
town he was connected with the Methodists. He subsequently removed 
to Bawtry, and from thence to Barton. 

Mrs. Watson, the mother of Richard, is still living, (1834,) and re- 
sides in Nottingham. She was born in London ; but removed in early 
life with her parents to Finningley, near Bawtry, where she became 
acquainted with Mr. Watson, and was married to him in the parish 
church of that village. Though far advanced in years, she is in full 
possession of her faculties ; and in her features greatly resembles her 
son. She presented her husband with eighteen children, of whom 
Richard was the seventh. They all died in their infancy, except 
Richard, and three sisters who are still living. 

Richard was born February 22d, 1781. His father at that time was 
connected with the dissenters ; yet, being a freeman of the city of 
Lincoln, and thinking that the parish register might be of advantage 
to his son in future life, the child was baptized at St. Peter's church, 
in Barton. During his infancy his health was exceedingly delicate ; 



his death was almost daily anticipated ; he was taken to the church to 
be baptized on the fifth of March, being then only eleven days old ; 
and his parents, who were passionately fond of him, had scarcely the 
slightest hope that he would be spared to arrive at manhood. He was 
so extremely weak, that his mother was for a long time compelled to 
nurse him upon a pillow ; his feeble and attenuated frame not being 
able to bear the slight pressure of its own weight upon her arms. 

When he was about three or four years old, so as to be able to walk, 
he became very lethargic. If his mother suffered him to leave the 
house for the purpose of play, a messenger generally arrived in a very 
short time, informing her that her son had reclined his head upon the 
threshold of some neighbouring house, and was there fast asleep. 
This drowsiness was only temporary, and was succeeded by unusual 
playfulness and vivacity. At a proper age he was placed under the 
tuition of an old lady Avho kept a school within a few doors of his 
father's house. The very earnest and vehement manner in which he 
repeated the letters, when learning the alphabet and beginning to form 
syllables, greatly interested his governess ; who often exclaimed, 
" Bless thee ! Thou wilt be a great man." The prediction has been 
amply verified ; and the kindness and generosity under the impulse of 
which the prophetess thus oracularly spoke were honourable to her 
character ; although the attainments of her pupil at that time could not 
be regarded as any proof of future eminence. 

Having acquired the rudiments of instruction under the care and 
encouragement of his female teacher, Richard was sent to a school 
which was kept in a room adjoining St. Peter's church, by the curate, 
whose name was the Rev Matthew Barnett, the clergyman by whom 
he had been baptized. He was then about six years of age ; and 
during the first quarter of his admission, his intelligent tutor, seeing 
the capabilities of the boy, waited upon his parents, and proposed that 
he should immediately enter upon the study of Latin. With this sug- 
gestion they readily complied ; although they had not previously con- 
templated, in the education of their son, any thing more than a bare 
preparation for some ordinary business. A higher Power, however, 
designed him for more important employment ; and had it not been for 
that sound classical training which he received in early life, he would 
have been very inadequately qualified for those momentous services in 
the Church for which he was intended. The parties concerned in 
conducting his education, at this period of his life, were unconscious 
instruments in the hands of a wise and gracious Providence, which 
was preparing him for extensive and permanent usefulness in the 
world. He had great aptitude for the acquisition of learning ; so that 
he could freely indulge himself in play, which, considering the peculiar 
delicacy of his constitution, was necessary to his health, and yet he 
was always ready to obey the call of his master, when the time arrived 
for repeating his lesson. His mother often reminded him of the length 
and difficulty of his classical tasks, and of the consequent necessity 
of application ; and his general reply was, " I can say my lesson." 
Fearing that he did not pursue his studies with sufficient diligence, 
she inquired of Mr. Barnett respecting the proficiency of his pupil ; 
who told her that she might lay aside all anxiety on that subject, inas- 
much ae the improvement of her son was to him perfectly satisfactory. 


Richard remained under the efficient tuition of this clergyman about 
two years, when the family removed from Barton. 

During his residence in this town, Mr. Watson, sen., was accustom- 
ed, when the tide served, to cross the Humber from Barton to Hull on 
the Sunday morning, to attend the preaching of the Rev. Mr. Lambert, 
an eminent dissenting minister in that town ; and also that of the Rev. 
Joseph Milner, the ecclesiastical historian. In Mr. Milner's church, 
he often heard Mr. Stillingfleet, of Hotham, and other evangelical 
clergymen of celebrity. On these occasions he was frequently ac- 
companied by his son Richard, who thus early in life was trained to 
an attendance upon the public worship of almighty God, and enjoy- 
ed the means of Christian instruction ; and that salutary impres- 
sions were then made upon his tender mind, he afterward gratefully 
acknowledged. His father's sentiments, at this period, appear to 
have been Calvinistic ; and as he was anxious that his neighbours 
should enjoy such a ministry as that which he conscientiously prefer- 
red, and to which he attached so much importance, he united with 
some other persons, like minded with himself, in the erection of a 
small chapel at Barton, in which a minister belonging to the connec- 
tion of the late countess of Huntingdon was invited to officiate. He 
lodged in the house of Mr. Watson during his stay in Barton ; but as 
he did not succeed in raising either a congregation or a church, so as 
to obtain adequate support, he at length left the place, and the attempt 
to raise a dissenting interest was abandoned. The sale of the chapel 
became necessary ; and Mr. Watson would not consent to this mea- 
sure, unless his fellow trustees would dispose of it to the Methodists, 
that it might still be used as a place of religious worship. To this 
they agreed ; and this humble structure is believed to have been the 
first Methodist chapel in Barton. By this attempt to introduce a dis- 
senting ministry, Mr. Watson offended many of his customers, who 
therefore withdrew their patronage from him. His business, in conse- 
quence, declined ; and he was ultimately induced to leave the town. 
He was an upright man ; and among those who were personally 
acquainted with him in those times, he had the reputation of possess- 
ing considerable powers of memory ; while his general intelligence, 
and especially his knowledge of divinity, raised him considerably 
above the greater part of his contemporaries of the same rank in so- 
ciety. The discipline which he maintained in his family was strict. 
His children were trained up in a regular attendance upon religious 
worship ; were restrained from evil company, from Sabbath breaking, 
and from the use of profane songs ; and regularly instructed in the 
Assembly's Catechism. His parental care and solicitude were not in 
vain. Though often called to follow his infant offspring to the grave, 
in one of them, at least, he was favoured with a signal display of the 
power of Divine grace. He had a daughter who was a very remark- 
able example of early piety. She was a year or two older than her 
brother Richard ; and they were tenderly attached to each other. They 
were accustomed to sing hymns together ; and when they were left in 
the dark, she often told him that they need not be afraid ; for that good 
angels, who sing hymns to God continually, would always take care 
of them. She had strong presentiments of an early death ; and fre- 
quently told the family that she should soon die, and go to heaven. 



Once, when the shoemaker brought her a pair of new shoes, instead 
of being elated, as is usually the case in children of her age, she told 
him that he might take them back again ; for that she should not live 
to wear them. Her anticipations of an early death were realized. She 
died of the small pox, when her brother Richard was about four years 
old ; and he was thus deprived of his favourite companion. 

In the meanwhile, his mental improvement kept pace with his age. 
When he was not more than six years old, he read, with intense inte- 
rest, sixteen or eighteen volumes of the Universal History, relating to 
the European nations, which his father purchased for him in one of 
his visits to Hull. He was exceedingly desirous to obtain the remain- 
der of that voluminous work ; but in this he was disappointed. In those 
times he also practised himself in drawing, in which he took great 
delight, and manifested more than ordinary taste. When he wanted a 
fresh supply of brushes, or of colours, he generally made application 
to his mother, whom he found, as other children have also done in 
similar cases, somewhat more accessible on such subjects than the 
father. It was his practice to repeat his Latin grammar to his eldest 
sister who now survives him ; till at length she became nearly as well 
acquainted with it as he himself was. At one time, being both con- 
fined to the house by indisposition, they committed nearly the whole 
of Fenelon's Telemachus to memory. His sister speaks of his frater- 
nal spirit and conduct in those times, and in his subsequent life, in 
terms of delight and affection. If any misunderstanding ever took 
place between them, it was generally terminated by a repetition of 
two stanzas in Dr. Watts's hymns for children, with which their minds 
were familiar : — 

" Let dogs delight to bark and bite, 
For God hath made them so ; 
Let bears and lions growl and fight, 
For 'tis their nature too. 

But children, you should never let 

Such angry passions rise ; 
Your little hands were never made 

To tear each other's eyes." 

When Richard was about eight years of age, the family removed 
from Barton to Lincoln, where his father carried on business for seve- 
ral years, in the parish of St. Mary. On their arrival in that city, 
Richard was sent to a private seminary, kept by a person of the name 
of Hescott, till his parents should be able to obtain for him admission 
into the free grammar school. Here his classical studies seem to have 
been in a great measure suspended ; and his attention was directed to 
the mathematics, and to those branches of education which have a refe- 
rence to commercial transactions. At this school he does not appear 
to have been distinguished either by his application or his proficiencv. 
His hand writing was not good ; and, indeed, he was never ambitious 
to excel in this most useful art. He made amends, however, in some 
degree, by the superiority of his reading. In this he was proposed as 
an example to the whole school ; and it became a common remark 
among the boys, " Dick Watson will make a capital parson, he is so 
good a reader." To him, the most important arrangement connected 
with this period of his life was the course of catechetical instruction 


which he attended, under the direction of the minister who officiated 
in Lady Huntingdon's chapel. The catechism which was used, and 
the sections of which he was required consecutively to commit to 
memory, was that of the Westminster assembly of divines ; which, with 
the confession of faith drawn up by the same authorities, is well known 
to be the standard of doctrine in the Scottish Church. Both these 
formularies are decidedly Calvinistic on the question of predestination 
and its concomitants ; but they are, otherwise, among the best summa- 
ries of Christian theology ever compiled. To young Watson it must 
have been a great advantage to be rendered familiar with this brief 
system of Divine truth ; a part of which was explained to him and his 
fellow catechumens every Saturday afternoon, when they resorted to 
the chapel for that purpose. Though the effects of this course might 
not immediately appear, he doubtless derived from it great benefit, 
when he became serious, and especially when he was called to instruct 
others in the concerns of salvation. Religious training is an essential 
part of sound education ; and no mode of accomplishing this object has 
been found so efficient as that of catechising ; the duty of which ought 
most conscientiously to be discharged by all those persons on whom 
the care of children and youth devolves. To say nothing of parents, 
those ministers incur a fearful responsibility who publicly admit chil- 
dren into the Church by baptism, and afterward neglect to take them 
under their pastoral charge, and afford no direct assistance in bringing 
them up in " the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Catechetical 
instruction, as an elementary process, is necessary to qualify young 
persons to derive due advantage from the ministry of the word ; and as 
a means of bringing the ministers of Christ and the junior portion of 
their charge into regular intercourse, it is intimately connected with 
the interests of the rising race, the prosperity of the Church, 
the preservation of public morals, and the national welfare. 

After remaining at the seminary of Mr. Hescott about two years, 
Richard Watson was removed to the grammar school at Lincoln, then 
conducted, it is believed, by the Rev. Mr. Outhwaite, assisted by the 
Rev. John Carter ; the latter of whom was afterward, for a long series 
of years, the head master of that establishment. His application and 
proficiency were highly satisfactory, under the tuition of those gentle- 
men. He read Cesar, Virgil, Horace, and some of the orations and 
epistles of Cicero, with Homer and Xenophon. It was without any 
specific object, either in his own mind, or in that of his parents, that he 
was subjected to this course of grammatical study in early life ; but to him 
it afterward proved to be of incalculable advantage. By this means a so- 
briety and discipline were given to his mind, when more directly turned 
to the various branches of knowledge ; the literary treasures of Greece 
and Rome were placed within his reach ; and he was prepared to enter 
upon the study of the Greek Testament, to avail himself of the theologi- 
cal writings of the ablest divines and commentators in Europe, to form 
an acquaintance with ecclesiastical antiquity, and to read the Hebrew 
Scriptures with far less difficulty than he would otherwise have expe- 
rienced, had he not been acquainted with the general principles upon 
which language is constructed. These advantages he ultimately real- 
ized to a considerable extent. 

While pursuing his studies at the grammar school, lie gave indica- 
Vol. I. 2 


tions of that generosity which afterward became one of his most dis- 
tinguishing characteristics. Among his school fellows was a son of 
Colonel Broomhead. The youth was desirous to learn ; but his ability 
was not equal to that of some of his associates ; and Richard was 
accustomed to assist him in his difficulties. The kindness shown him 
made a deep impression upon his ingenuous mind ; and he was anxious 
in some manner to repay the valuable assistance of his friend ; and 
therefore proposed to Mr. and Mrs. Watson that their son should enter 
into the army ; suggesting that the colonel would soon place him in a 
situation of honour and emolument. Young Broomhead was himself 
in a course of training for the profession of arms, regarding it as the 
most direct road to fame ; and he was beyond measure disappointed 
and grieved when he found that the parents of his friend had thoughts 
concerning a military life very different from those which he cherished, 
and were therefore deaf to all his proposals and entreaties on this sub- 
ject. When he arrived at a suitable age, he entered into the army, and 
was killed in the first engagement with the enemy. His friend Watson 
lived to acquire a fame which the sword and musket can never confer. 

In connection Avith his classical studies, he cherished a taste for 
general literature and knowledge. His father purchased for him a 
history of England, in four folio volumes ; most probably that of Rapin, 
with the continuation by Tindal. This work he read with avidity ; 
and so fixed was his attention, that when he sat, as he frequently did, 
with one of these volumes on his knee, he appeared to suffer no inter- 
ruption from the conversation and bustle of the family. Being deeply 
interested in the manners, wars, and adventures of former ages, and 
finding that the leisure which he could command during the day was 
insufficient to gratify his appetite for this kind of information, he re- 
quested permission to sit up all night for the perusal of his favourite 
work. This request, of course, was denied by his parents, for reasons 
which his limited experience rendered him unable to appreciate ; and 
he was, in consequence, greatly disappointed. At last he thought of 
an expedient which was likely to secure his purpose. He concealed 
the iron bar which fastened the shutters of the shop ; and when the 
night came, and this necessary article of security was wanting, affect- 
ing to sympathize with the family in the loss which they had sustained, 
and suggesting that it would be very unsafe to leave the property in 
the shop exposed to depredation, he recommended that the family should 
retire to sleep, and he would sit up all night, to prevent the intrusion 
of thieves. The fraud was not discovered till sometime afterward. 
This ingenious scheme shows his passion for reading, but is not to be 

On the removal of the family to Lincoln, Mr. Watson, sen., attended 
the chapel belonging to Lady Huntingdon's connection. He subse- 
quently united himself to the Methodist society ; and his family were 
accustomed to accompany him to the chapels of these communities ; 
but it does not appear that his son gave any satisfactory indications 
of piety at this period of his life. He was ready at his studies, fond 
of play, full of animation, possessed a ready wit, and gave striking 
proofs of a strong and determined mind ; but the solemn truths of re- 
ligion engaged little of his attention, and did not seem deeply to im- 
press his heart. As his parents had not the means of educating him 


for a learned profession, when he arrived at the age of fourteen years, 
it was necessary that he should be taught some business, as a means 
of honourable subsistence. His father recommended that he should 
be a draper, or an ironmonger ; but he chose rather to be a carpenter 
and joiner. The reason which he assigned for this preference was, 
that the life of a shopkeeper is comparatively idle ; and he thought it 
much more manly and becoming to be engaged in an active and labori- 
ous employment. In a yard connected with his father's house was a 
shop, at which machines of various descriptions, and especially for 
the winnowing of corn, were manufactured ; and it is probable that 
his intercourse with the workmen, whom he daily saw using the im- 
plements of their craft, suggested to him the business which he select- 
ed. According to his wishes, he was apprenticed for the term of seven 
years, to Mr. William Bescoby, whose workshop was not far distant 
from his father's house ; and as his health was delicate, it was arranged 
that he should reside with his parents. 

At this time his appearance was very singular. Though only four- 
teen years of age, he had attained his full stature, which was six feet 
two inches ; his hair was lank, and of a deep black ; his countenance 
was that of a mere boy, and his manners were unformed. His extra- 
ordinary height was the more remarkable, as both his parents were 
considerably below the middle stature. 

After the commencement of his apprenticeship, his general spirit 
and conduct underwent a change for the worse. He became less 
studious and thoughtful, and cherished an unbounded passion for mis- 
chief. Within a few yards of his father's house there lived a Methodist 
shoemaker, in very humble circumstances ; but he was distinguished 
by deep piety, and very active zeal. This poor man, who had once 
beaten Richard in the chapel for indecorous behaviour, became an 
object of almost constant jest with the thoughtless youth. A habit o 
treating religious persons with ridicule generally prepares the way for 
greater evils ; and the contempt shown for the shoemaker was only 
the prelude to acts of direct hostility to the pious associates of that 
good man. The only road leading to the Methodist chapel in Lincoln 
lay by the side of the canal ; and for many years the congregations, 
in passing and repassing, were exposed to the most grievous annoy- 
ance. Men and boys were accustomed, especially on the winter 
evenings, to congregate on the opposite side of the canal, and pelt 
them with offensive and even dangerous missiles. This practice was 
carried on, with various degrees of violence, for several years ; and 
was only terminated by the just and spirited conduct of one of the 
judges, before whom it was found necessary to bring some of the worst 
delinquents for trial at the assizes. Richard was unhappily led, doubt- 
less by his love of sport, rather than by direct and systematic hostility 
to religion, to connect himself with the persons who were concerned 
m these practices. Disregarding parental authority and example, he 
took his stand on the side of the canal opposite to that on which the 
chapel stood, and joined in pelting the worshippers of God with whom 
his lather was associated in Christian fellowship. Sometimes he also 
went to the chapel, to disturb the congregation and the preacher during 
the time of Divine service. His father was grieved to witness such 
a destitution of pious feeling in one so young, and who had been reli- 



giously educated ; but the heart was hardened through the deceitfulness 
of sin, and for a time remonstrance was unavailing. The misguided 
young man had no conception of happiness, except in levity and frolic, 
and in the company of persons of similar tastes and pursuits. Con- 
sidering the manner in which he began, thus early in life, to neglect 
the house of God, profane the Sabbath, associate with evil company, 
and to ridicule sacred things, the anticipations of his friends respect- 
ing his future character and habits were very discouraging. Had it 
not been that he was arrested by an unseen hand, and made a remark- 
able instance of the freeness and power of Divine grace, his own 
opinion was, he would have become one of the most wicked among 
his comrades. Possessing extraordinary energy of mind, it was not 
in his nature to rest in mediocrity. He must be eminent either in 
good or evil ; and now, having entered upon a downward course, the 
fearful probability was, that he would pursue it to his ruin. 

With God, however, "judgment is a strange work." He hath no 
pleasure in the death of a sinner ; and by a signal display of that 
mercy and power of which the history of the Church furnishes many 
examples, the thoughtless and ungodly youth, who had just entered 
upon a ruinous career, was effectually converted from the error of his 
way. The manner in which this change was wrought is worthy of 
special record. There lived in Lincoln, at that time, a watchmaker, 
who was no relation to Richard, though he bore the same name. He 
was a remarkably intelligent man ; and to his house Richard was ac- 
customed to resort, for the pleasure and benefit of his conversation, 
and especially for assistance in his mathematical studies, to which 
he continued to devote a portion of his time. The wife of this man 
was a professor of religion ; but more remarkable for her loquacity, 
than the depth of her piety. She was an endless disputant on doctrinal 
topics ; and especially on the five points at issue between the disciples 
of Calvin and those of Arminius ; and when Richard came to the house 
for scientific purposes, she greatly annoyed him by lengthened speeches 
on questions which he did not understand, and in which he felt little 
interest. The family of the Watsons at that time had, in a great mea- 
sure, forsaken the Calvinistic ministry, and attached themselves to the 
Methodist chapel ; and this good woman seems to have been very desirous 
of convincing Richard how grievously they had mistaken their way, 
in preferring the Wesleyan theology to that of Calvin. His patience 
was severely tried by what he considered an impertinent occupation 
of his time ; and his vanity was mortified when his female assailant 
pressed him with arguments which he knew not how to answer. For 
some time he had absented himself from the Methodist chapel ; but at 
length he resolved to attend the preaching there for a few times, in 
the hope of hearing something that would enable him, as Bishop Hors- 
ley expresses it, " to grapple with the difficulties of the quinquarticu- 
lar controversy," and to silence his triumphant antagonist. Such was 
the motive which induced him again to resort to the place where his 
father worshipped ; and under the first sermon that he heard after his 
return, he learned, what he little suspected, that there were subjects 
of greater importance than those on which he had come to seek infor- 
mation, and that they demanded his first attention. The late Rev. 
George Sargent was the preacher. The word came with power to 


the young man's heart, and he was deeply convinced of sin. He saw 
that he was guilty in the sight of God, and exposed to the tremen- 
dous curse of the Divine law ; that his nature was totally corrupt, so 
as to render him unable either to serve God acceptably on earth, or to 
enjoy him in heaven. Life appeared as a dream ; eternity, with all 
its realities, seemed to be just at hand ; and he was in danger of 
perishing everlastingly. His sins, incalculable in their number, and 
attended by many aggravations, were brought to his remembrance. 
They had been committed against a kind and long-suffering God, in 
contempt of his compassionate Redeemer, and in the midst of evangeli- 
cal light and instruction, which greatly enhanced their guilt. Fear 
succeeded to that hardihood which he had for some time maintained, 
and penitential sorrow to that levity which he had indulged. He 
thought no more of supplying himself with arguments on the subject 
of " fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute ;" but of the way by 
which he might escape the wrath which was suspended over his head, 
and ready to break forth upon him. At the conclusion of the service 
he left the chapel, not to rush into company, but to retire into secret ; 
not to engage in vain and wordy disputation, but to meditate and pray. 
The principal object to which his attention was now directed, was not 
the silencing of the eager controversialist who had puzzled him, but 
the removal of his guilt, by an application of the blood of Christ to his 
conscience. In this state of mind, " sorrowing after a godly sort," he 
was induced to accompany some religious people to a village, a few 
miles from Lincoln, to hear a sermon preached by the Rev. William 
Dodwell, vicar of Welby, near Grantham. Under the sermon of this 
clergyman, Richard's religious convictions were deepened ; and his 
grief occasioned by the remembrance of his rebellion against God was 
rendered more poignant and severe. The secrets of his heart were 
laid open ; and the evils of his nature were presented to his view in a 
new and fearful light. He was alarmed for the consequences of his 
wickedness ; weary and heavy laden under the yoke and burden of 
sin ; and he could only pray, " God be merciful to me a sinner." His 
state he perceived to be one of equal peril and wretchedness. 

Happily for him, he was surrounded by men who had passed through 
the same painful process to the joys of pardon and purity of heart. 
They had individually felt the anguish of a wounded spirit ; and knew 
how to sympathize with their weeping friend, who now preferred walk- 
ing with them in company to the house of God, and being hooted by the 
mob, to the society of scoffers, and the noisy hilarity of foolish men. 
His religious friends had obtained the salvation of the Gospel ; and 
well knowing the nature of that inward kingdom, for which his poverty 
of spirit was designed to prepare him ; and the richness of that com- 
fort which is promised to them that mourn as he did ; while they re- 
joiced to see the prodigal return, they directed his attention to the 
perfect sacrifice of Christ, and encouraged him to believe with the 
heart unto righteousness in his crucified Redeemer. From early life 
he had been accustomed to hear the doctrine of justification by faith 
stated and enforced ; but he never before saw its adaptation to his state 
and character. The doctrine of atonement for sin came to his heart 
with a freshness and power which he had never previously experienced ; 
his understanding approved of the evangelical method of a sinner's 


justification before God, through faith in the blood of Christ ; and be- 
lieving that Christ died as a sacrifice for the sins of men, — that Christ 
died as a sacrifice for his sins, — he put his trust in Christ for pardon, 
for a title to eternal life, and for that " holiness without which no man 
shall see the Lord." It was done unto him according to his faith. His 
midnight was turned into the light of day ; guilty fear in his breast 
gave place to filial love ; the Holy Ghost bore a distinct and indubitable 
witness with his spirit that he was a child of God; he loved God under 
a deep and impressive assurance of God's love to him ; and he loved 
all mankind for the Lord's sake. 

It has been justly observed by a modern writer, that a change like 
this can never be forgotten ; that a man might as well attempt to forget 
a hairbreadth escape from shipwreck, or from his house at midnight 
when he suddenly found himself enveloped in smoke and flame, as 
forget the period when, in the Scriptural sense of the expression, he 
" passed from death unto life." The subject of this account retained 
to the end of his days a vivid recollection of the feelings and occur- 
rences connected with this period of his moral history. In familiar 
intercourse with his friends he often referred to the callous state of his 
heart before his conversion, and the spiritual enjoyments which suc- 
ceeded that happy event. After a lapse of nearly thirty years he visit- 
ed the place of his spiritual birth ; and amidst the delightful services 
of a missionary anniversary, a love-feast was held for the members of 
the Methodist society in Lincoln and its neighbourhood, at which he 
was present. With deep emotion, the tears gushing from his eyes, he 
related the particulars of his early life ; especially his wickedness in con- 
necting himself with the persecutors of God's people ; the penitent 
distress which he experienced when convinced of sin ; and the state 
of light and liberty into which he was brought when " the God of hope 
filled him with all joy and peace in believing," and he was enabled to 
" abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost." During his 
last illness, when death appeared in full view before him, he said to a 
friend with strong feeling, " What a light was that ! what a day, when 
the blessed Spirit first struck the light of heaven into our dark minds.'" 

The principles which this truly great man recognized in conversion, 
he cherished through the labours and afflictions of life. He regarded 
the sacrifice and intercession of Christ as the only ground of a sinner's 
justification before God ; and faith in the blood of atonement as insepa- 
rably connected with salvation from the guilt and power of sin. The 
Holy Spirit he honoured as the author of saving faith, and of all holi- 
ness, power, and comfort in the mind of man. The salvation of the 
Gospel, consisting of these blessings, and obtained in this manner, he 
felt to be the great end of existence ; necessary to prepare mankind 
both for the duties and trials of life, and the joys of heaven. An en- 
larged acquaintance with theology, the Scriptures, religious people, and 
the history of the Church, only served to strengthen his attachment to 
these principles ; and he realized their truth and efficiency when pass- 
ing through " the valley of the shadow of death." 

The effects of regenerating grace were perhaps never more strikingly 
manifest than in the spirit and conduct of this extraordinary youth. 
Not many days had elapsed after he was convinced of sin, before 
he was made a happy partaker of the pardoning mercy of God. In 


him " old things were passed away, and all things become new." His 
attention to secular duties was most sedulous and exemplary ; and his 
proficiency in the practical knowledge of his business was rapid and 
surprising. All unnecessary connection with his ungodly companions 
was immediately and for ever abandoned. He became a willing and 
happy member of the Methodist society ; and meekly submitted to all 
the contumely and insult with which they were then treated in that 
city. His passion for folly and mischief was entirely subdued ; and 
his spirit, sanctified by Divine grace, and under the full influence of 
evangelical truth, was serious, cheerful, and devout. Notwithstanding 
his youth, his entire deportment was marked by such circumspection 
and decorum, that religious parents were accustomed to direct the atten- 
tion of their children to him as an example ; and in some instances, 
young people were so struck with the change which they saw in him, 
as to be deeply impressed with the reality and power of religion. His 
conversion, as might be expected, excited considerable attention among 
the persecutors of the Methodists, who were roused to more determin- 
ed opposition and outrage ; and the congregations were subjected to 
every species of annoyance, both in the chapel, and on their way to it. 
One evening, a number of men, dressed in a most ludicrous and fan- 
tastic manner, came to the chapel with a fiddle to disturb the worship- 
pers of God. This impious adventure, had it occurred a few months* 
before, would have been exactly adapted to his taste ; but now lie 
viewed it in a very different light. On his return home he related to 
his mother what had occurred ; at the same time weeping, because of 
the dishonour done to God by the profane interruption of his worship, 
and the folly and wickedness of the men who were thus criminally 
indifferent to every obligation of decency and religion. 

After his conversion, the improvement of his time became with him 
a matter of supreme importance ; and " no moment lingered unemploy- 
ed." The day was cheerfully spent in the labours of his calling ; and 
his evenings were devoted to the acquisition of useful knowledge, and 
attendance upon the worship of God. His mother states, that he spent 
much time in secret prayer, wrestling with God for spiritual blessings, 
and for the prosperity and enlargement of the kingdom of Christ. 
Public prayer meetings were frequently held ; and he was constantly 
present in these means of grace. His heart expanded with the love of 
Christ ; his peace often flowed like a river ; he longed for the salva- 
tion of others in the bowels of his Lord ; and under the impulse of 
these hallowed feelings he sometimes took a part in the public ad- 
dresses to the throne of the heavenly grace. This provoked, in a 
high degree, the ridicule of his former companions ; yet his self pos- 
session appears never to have forsaken him ; nor was he at all hin- 
dered in his Christian course. He steadily held on his way ; and 
neither the scoffs of the ungodly, nor the more dangerous suggestions 
of those who thought him " righteous overmuch," moved him from his 
purpose to serve God, and him alone. He resolved, in reliance upon 
the promised aids of Divine grace, to be a Christian altogether. 

The prayer meetings in the chapel often began about the time when 
his labours in the shop were ended : considerable haste, therefore, 
was requisite, that he might be at the house of God when the service 
commenced ; and it is a remarkable fact, that, at two different times, 


when running to the chapel, in his eagerness to join his Christian 
friends in Divine worship, he fell, and broke his arm. This was pro- 
bably occasioned, in part, at least, by the rapidity of his growth, and 
the enormous stature to which he had so suddenly attained. In these 
instances the ardour of his mind received a temporary check ; and, 
instead of pursuing his way to the " place where prayer was wont to 
be made," he returned home pensive and sad, holding the fractured 
limb in his hand, and relating to his parents the disaster which had 
befallen him. 


Developement of Mr. Watson's mental Character — Death of his Grandmother 
— Beginning of his Ministry — State of the Villages near Lincoln — Labours as a 
Local Preacher — Opposition — Visit to Newark — Freedom from his Apprentice- 
ship — Labours in the Newark Circuit — Appointed to the Ashby-de-la-Zouch 
Circuit — Character and Usefulness — Thirst for Knowledge — Desultory Nature 
of his Studies — Removal to the Castle-Donington Circuit — Henry's Method for 
Prayer — Winchesterianism. 

Those persons who had carefully observed the progress of Richard 
Watson from his infancy must have been aware that his mental pow- 
ers, though as yet very imperfectly developed, were above the common 
order. The readiness with which he acquired the elements of classi- 
cal learning at Barton, and the rapid advancement which he made in 
the same studies in the grammar school at Lincoln, showed something 
of his capabilities ; and the eagerness with which he encountered the 
voluminous History of England, and even that of Europe, seemed to 
give an earnest of future application, and of the eminence to which he 
might arrive in the various departments of knowledge. But it was not 
till after his conversion that his true intellectual character appeared. 
Up to that period his mental faculties had never been fully called forth. 
This complete change in " the inner man," gave an intensity to his 
feelings unknown before, and directed his attention to the sublimest 
and most important topics that ever occupied the thoughts of either 
men or angels. The perfections of the Godhead, the redemption of 
the world by the death of the incarnate Son of God, the guilt and 
misery of fallen man, the necessity of repentance, faith in the blood 
of atonement, the salvation of the Gospel, the pleasures of religion, 
triumph in death, the resurrection of the entire human race, the gene- 
ral judgment, the joys of heaven, the endless miseries of hell ; these 
and many collateral subjects roused his feelings, and stimulated all 
the energies of his imagination and understanding. His talents for 
usefulness soon became apparent. The moral state of the surround- 
ing country was eminently calculated to awaken his sympathies, while 
it called for the most strenuous exertions ; and with the full approbation 
of his religious friends, who saw that his piety was deep, and the 
growth of his mental stature as rapid as had been that of his corporeal 
frame, he soon began to deliver exhortations in the prayer meetings, 
and to officiate as a local preacher. The employment of persons so 
young in the public service of the Church requires great caution. 
There is a danger lest their personal religion should be injured by 


vanity and spiritual pride, while as yet their knowledge of themselves 
and of Satan's devices is very imperfect ; and there is an equal dan- 
ger lest they should injure the sacred cause of true religion by advanc- 
ing crude and undigested views of Divine truth, and erroneous inter- 
pretations of Scripture. The case of this remarkable youth, however, 
was peculiar. In ordinary instances such juvenile ministrations are 
seriously to be deprecated ; but he possessed a strength and sobriety 
of judgment, of which, at such a period of life, there have been few 
examples ; while the depth and solidity of his piety would have done 
honour to hoary years ; and the cordiality with which he was received 
by the most pious and intelligent of his hearers, and the success which 
attended his labours, proved that he had not mistaken his calling. He 
was a man in understanding, when people in general are mere children. 
The manner in which he was led to speak in public was very 
striking. His maternal grandmother lived in the family of his father. 
She was upward of eighty years of age, and appears to have been a 
woman of a very devout spirit. It was her practice regularly to at- 
tend the religious services of her parish Church on the Sabbath ; and 
almost every day in the week beside she was present at the worship 
of God in the cathedral ; although that edifice was nearly a mile from 
her home, and was situated on the summit of a steep and lofty hill, 
which it was necessary for her to ascend. She was not a member of 
the Methodist society, but was a frequent attendant at the chapel, 
where she joined in the service of God, and listened to " the word of 
his grace." To this venerable relation, who, like another Anna, " was 
of a great age," and " departed not from the temple, but served God with 
prayers night and day," the pious youth was tenderly attached. One 
day, when he was at work in the shop, she said to her granddaughter, 
the present Mrs. Robinson, of Nottingham, "Ann, my dear, get the 
prayer book, and read to me the whole of the burial service. I should 
like to hear it." Her request was complied with, notwithstanding its 
singularity. She then said, " I very much wish to see Richard. Will 
any of you ask him to come home V Her message was conveyed to 
him ; but the answer was, that he could not be spared from his work. 
He added, however, that he would see his grandmother in the evening 
when his work was done. In the meanwhile she said to her daughter, 
" I am very sleepy." " I will fetch you a pillow, mother," was the re- 
ply ; " and you shall lean your head upon the table, while you sit in 
your chair." The pillow was brought ; she reclined her head upon it, 
closed her eyes, and instantly expired, without the slightest indication 
of pain. When Richard returned home, and found that his grandmo- 
ther was no more, and that she had departed this life in this calm and 
peculiar manner, he was greatly affected. A prayer meeting was held 
in the chapel that evening ; he, according to his custom, resorted to that 
means of grace ; and, under the strong impulse 'of the feelings thus 
excited, he delivered an address to the persons then assembled, on the 
solemn event which had just occurred in his father's house ; adverting 
to the lessons of piety and diligence it was calculated to teach. This 
appears to have been the commencement of his public ministry ; the 
future character of which neither he nor his humble auditors at that 
time anticipated. The remains of his venerable grandmother were in- 
terred in the church yard of St. Mary's ; and the following inscription 



is still legible upon her grave stone : " In Memory of Sarah Weeden, 
who departed this life February 10th, 1796, aged eighty-one years. 
Also, William, son of Thomas and Ann Watson, who died an infant, 
April 9th, 1792." As Richard was born February 22d, 1781 ; it ap- 
pears that he was scarcely fifteen years old when he began to call 
sinners to repentance : an instance of precocity almost unexampled. 

Having begun to declare " the truth as it is in Jesus," he was impel- 
led onward by a conviction of duty, and an intense zeal for the spiritual 
good of mankind ; and on the 23d of February, the day after he was 
fifteen years of age, he preached his first sermon, in a cottage, at a 
small village called Boothby, a few miles from Lincoln. He saw the 
vanity of the world, and its utter insufficiency to confer the happiness 
to which the deathless soul of man aspires ; he saw, in an impressive 
light, the evil and danger of sin, and the necessity of salvation from it ; 
he was himself happy in the enjoyment of the Divine favour, and it 
was his ardent and restless desire that all the world might share with 
him in the blessings of the Saviour's love. The moral state of the 
villages in the neighbourhood of Lincoln was deeply to be deplored. 
There was among the people a general indifference even to the forms 
of religion, and a lamentable ignorance of its spirituality and power ; 
and at the same time, they were strenuously opposed to all attempts to 
instruct and reform them, because such attempts they felt to be a direct 
reflection both upon them and their forefathers. This state of things 
called for tender compassion, and required more than ordinary firmness 
and perseverance. The men who were to bring about a new state of 
things needed a courage which no personal danger could daunt, and a 
patience and self possession which no provocations and insults could 
move. These qualifications were found in Richard Watson, young as 
he then was in years, and younger still as he was in true religion. 
Not many months had elapsed since he was a companion of ungodly 
men ; but now his views and feelings were so changed, that life itself 
was of small value in his estimation, when placed in competition with 
the Christian instruction and consequent salvation of the people. The 
harvest was at once plenteous and difficult, and the labourers were few 
and unpromising. In what is now the Lincoln circuit, there were then 
only about six local preachers ; and there was no chapel in which to 
officiate but that in the city. They had no regular plan of operation ; 
but each man went to the places where he found an opening, or where 
he thought his labours were the most needed. The entire circuit com- 
prehended what are now the circuits of Lincoln, Gainsborough, and 
Sleaford ; and these distant places were regularly visited by the itine- 
rant preachers ; but the labours of the local preachers, being generally 
confined to the Sabbath, were of course circumscribed within much 
narrower limits. In this work our youthful evangelist took his part. 
There were no dwelling houses open to him in which he could be ac- 
commodated for the delivery of his message in several of the villages 
which he felt it his duty to visit ; the erection of chapels was out of 
the question ; and he was accustomed, therefore, accompanied by one 
or two friends of a kindred spirit, to stand up in the open air, and, 
after the example of his Lord, inculcate the leading truths of Christiani- 
ty. The principal scene of his early labours lay in what is called the 
Cliff Row ; a number of agricultural villages situated on a range of 


kills a few miles south of Lincoln, and running nearly parallel with the 
road between Lincoln and Grantham. The treatment which he fre- 
quently met with was rude and offensive ; and his mother states, that 
when he returned home in the evenings, his clothes often bore sad 
marks of the violence with which he had been assailed by lawless 
men. The Methodist shoemaker of whom he had been accustomed to 
make sport, was generally his faithful associate and companion in these 
evangelical labours. He used to encourage his young friend in his 
arduous work, stand by him in the midst of mobs, and endeavour to 
guard him against injury and interruption. The spiritual and moral 
good effected by the blessing of God upon the disinterested labours of 
Richard Watson and his coadjutors, in a comparatively short space of 
time, was incalculable, as the writer of this account can testify from 
personal knowledge. For many years the shoemaker here referred to 
was a very zealous and useful member of the Methodist society in Lin- 
coln, and afforded valuable assistance in extending the work of God in 
the neighbourhood ; but his latter end, unhappily, was not worthy of 
his previous life. Surrounded by a large family, he extended his busi- 
ness beyond his pecuniary means, and involved himself in difficulties, 
under the pressure of which his moral principles were overcome ; and 
his sun set behind a cloud. His name is therefore withheld ; and his 
case is recorded as a warning to others. " He that shall endure unto the 
end, the same shall be saved." 

Mr. Watson and his brethren met with opposition more formidable 
than that which was raised by mobs. Their fears were strongly ex- 
cited by men who threatened to put obsolete and persecuting laws in 
force against them. Among the persons who adopted this mode of 
intimidation was an aged and intemperate clergyman in the neighbour- 
hood of Lincoln, who greatly frightened them by his menaces. They 
deemed it necessary, therefore, to take the oaths prescribed by the act 
of toleration, and claim the legal protection to which they were entitled 
as British subjects. Richard applied to the bench of magistrates at 
the quarter sessions in Lincoln, requesting that the oaths might be 
administered to him, and that he might receive a license to preach. — 
With this request they refused to comply ; the worshipful the mayor, 
who appears to have acted as chairman, assigning, as the ground of 
the refusal, that as the applicant was an apprentice, his time was not 
his own. A wise and tolerant reason, truly ! Because his time during 
the week days belonged to his master, if he should dare on the Sab- 
bath, when his master made no claim upon his services, to follow the 
convictions of his own mind in calling sinners to repentance, he should 
be subjected to pains and penalties, under the operation of iniquitous 
acts of parliament passed in the reign of the Stuarts ! Such was the 
justice then awarded to the Methodists by the civic authorities of Lin- 
coln. In consequence of this disappointment Mr. Watson repaired to 
the quarter sessions at Newark, accompanied by one of his brethren, 
where they met with a more favourable reception ; and being duly 
licensed, they were placed under the guardianship of the law in their 
public ministrations. They were therefore at liberty to persevere in the 
course of useful and honourable toil, to which they believed themselves 
providentially called, without fear of legal molestation, and to the grief 
and mortification of the men who wished to harass and annoy them. 


It was impossible that a person so young, so deeply pious, and so 
gifted, should continue to preach without exciting general attention. — 
He sometimes occupied the pulpit of the Methodist chapel in Lincoln, 
to the astonishment of the congregation, and especially of those who 
were acquainted with his former levity and folly. Those of his hear- 
ers who were possessed of spiritual discernment saw in his hallowed 
seriousness and fervour, his distinct and forcible elocution, and his 
manly sense, the elements of the ministerial character ; and they glori- 
fied God in him. In his conversion and endowments they also recog- 
nized the fulfilment of the sacred word, which declares that God shall 
" ordain strength out of the mouths of babes and sucklings ;" and they 
silently adored that blessed Spirit who can enrich with wisdom, know- 
ledge, and utterance, and who " giveth to every man severally as he 
will." Reports concerning the character and success of his preaching 
spread into districts where he was personally unknown ; and many 
were induced to say, " I would hear the young man myself." Among 
other places, he was requested to visit Newark, and to preach in the 
Methodist chapel. With this request he complied ; but when he 
ascended the pulpit, his boyish aspect excited painful alarm in many 
who had come to hear, and who could scarcely believe that it was pos- 
sible for one so young to preach extempore. Their alarm was increased 
when he read for his text, " God is a Spirit ; and they that worship him 
must worship him in spirit and in truth," John iv, 24, thinking that the 
words presented difficulties which he was not prepared to encounter. 
As he proceeded in his discourse, however, and they heard from his 
lips some of the most important verities of the Christian revelation, 
delivered with a gravity, and with a correctness both of sentiment and 
expression, that would have done honour to an aged divine, their ap- 
prehensions on his account entirely subsided, and they listened to his 
message with mingled feelings of admiration and delight. This visit 
to Newark led to the most important results. It was a link in that 
golden chain of Providence, by which he was ultimately drawn from 
all secular pursuits, and " separated to the Gospel of God." 

To those intelligent Christians who had observed even Mr. Watson's 
first attempts at preaching, it must have been manifest that he was pro- 
videntially designed for the work of the ministry. The business in 
which he was employed as a mechanic afforded no adequate scope for 
the exercise of his mental powers ; and his mind was perpetually oc- 
cupied in the study of the Scriptures, in the preparation of sermons, 
and in plans of usefulness to the neglected souls of men. His atten- 
tion was drawn to these subjects by an influence which he knew not 
how to resist ; and in preaching the doctrines of the cross, the truth 
and power of which he himself had realized, he found the richest joy 
and satisfaction. Formidable difficulties, however, appeared to beset 
his path. About five years of his apprenticeship yet remained ; and if 
he should employ the whole of this time in manual labour, the cultiva- 
tion of his mind must continue in a great degree neglected ; and his 
means of usefulness in future life be proportionably diminished. Under 
these circumstances he meekly pursued his course of duty, leaving 
himself entirely in the hands of God, and taking no anxious thought 
for the morrow. His heart was the seat of holy peace and love ; he 
had no object in view but the glory of his Divine Lord ; and at length 


his way was made plain before him, in a manner which he could never 
have anticipated. His master was not wealthy, nor did he make a 
strict profession of religion. The services of his apprentice had be- 
come very valuable ; and were likely to be so, in an increasing degree, 
through a series of years. Yet he saw that his gain would be the per- 
manent loss of the young man ; and, with a generosity which reflects 
the highest honour upon his memory, he delivered up the indenture by 
which Richard Watson was bound to him ; saying to the father of this 
interesting youth, " Your son has learned every thing that I am able to 
teach him ; and his abilities are such, that he is capable of providing 
for himself far better than he will be if he continue with me to the end 
of his apprenticeship. I understand he has an uncle in London, who 
carries on an extensive and lucrative business as a cabinet maker ; and 
I advise you to send him thither, where he will have an opportunity of 
exercising his ingenuity, and of turning it to a good account." Richard 
was thus at liberty to act as God in his providence might direct. On 
the part of Mr. Bescoby, the liberation of his apprentice was a perfectly 
voluntary act ; and he seems to have had no object in viewbut the secular 
advantage of the youth, whose character he admired, and in whose wel- 
fare he cherished a friendly concern. 

When Mr. Watson had, in this honourable manner, obtained his 
liberty, his father proposed to him that he should repair to London, for 
the purpose which his late master had suggested ; but in reply to this 
Richard said he did not think that he should long confine his attention 
to business of any kind. His mind was strongly drawn to preaching ; 
and he believed himself to be called of God to the Christian ministry. 
" If that be the case," rejoined the father, " it is useless to expend any 
more time and money in acquiring a knowledge of any trade." 

At this juncture the Rev. Thomas Cooper, then stationed in the New- 
ark circuit, lost his health ; and it was found necessary to engage some 
person to supply his lack of ministerial service. Mr. Watson had 
preached in Newark with acceptance a little while before ; and in this 
emergency the attention of the people in that town was immediately 
directed to him. He was accordingly requested to take Mr. Cooper's 
work for a time ; and as he was disengaged, and had a strong predi- 
lection for the ministry, he complied, and repaired to Newark in the 
spring of 1796. Some of his friends in Lincoln, especially among 
the local preachers, disapproved of this arrangement. They had no 
doubts respecting his piety, or the competency of his abilities ; but they 
thought his experience too limited to justify him in undertaking the 
labour of a travelling preacher. 

On his arrival in Newark Mr. Watson went to the house of Mr. 
Cooper, where he was very kindly received. He had not been long 
there before he became greatly affected with his situation. He had 
just left his kind parents, for the first time ; he was separated from his 
religious companions and associates ; surrounded by strangers ; about 
to enter upon a work of great difficulty, and of fearful responsibility ; 
and he felt that his abilities were inadequate to the task which was laid 
upon him. Under the impression of these views the tears began to 
glisten in his eyes ; he sighed deeply ; and at length, overcome by his 
feelings, he wept like a child. Mr. Cooper, who knew the heart of a 
young preacher, and a stranger, sympathized with his sorrowing friend. 


He took him up into his study, apart from all company ; conversed with 
him at considerable length ; encouraged him in the most feeling man- 
ner ; and united with him in earnest prayer that the Lord would assist 
him, and bless him in his work. It was finally arranged that he should 
board and lodge in the house of Mr. Eggleston, an experienced Chris- 
tian, and a man of leading influence in the society. This excellent 
man has been dead several years ; but his son, and other branches of 
the family, remain ; and from them we learn, that such was the piety, 
the good sense, the propriety, with which their inmate conducted him- 
self when under their roof, that to this day they cordially cherish his 
memory, and always speak of him in terms of the highest respect. In 
a letter addressed to the author of this narrative Mr. Eggleston, jun., 
says, " His kind, affectionate, and pious deportment highly endeared 
him to my late parents, and the other members of the family ; and his 
preaching was marked by a gravity above his years. There was also 
in his sermons an exhibition of mind, and a self command and regu- 
larity, very unusual in young preachers. The general remark among 
those who heard him was, ' He preaches like one who has been many 
years in the work !' " 

Mr. Watson entered upon his itinerant labours in the Newark circuit 
with fear and trembling ; and it was a considerable disadvantage to him 
that he was sent in the place of Mr. Cooper, whose talents as a preacher 
were of a very popular kind. "When he went to one village in the cir- 
cuit, the family by whom he was entertained had not the magnanimity 
to suppress their feelings of disappointment and mortification at the 
unpromising appearance of Mr. Cooper's substitute. They had expected 
their favourite preacher ; and Avhen they found that his place was to be 
supplied by a stranger, of very boyish mien, whom they had never pre- 
viously seen, they uttered in his presence the most unseemly com- 
plaints, and in a manner calculated to make a very painful impression 
upon his mind. He listened, with perfect silence, to all their expres- 
sions of regret ; and when the time arrived for the commencement of 
the service, he rose, and with becoming seriousness called upon the 
congregation to unite with him in singing the hymn beginning, — 

"How happy is the pilgrim's lot, 
How free from every anxious thought, 

From worldly hope and fear ! 
Confined to neither court nor cell, 
His soul disdains on earth to dwell ; 

He only sojourns here." 

The entire service was conducted with such decorum and impressive- 
ness, and such a heavenly influence attended the sermon, that the con- 
gregation were deeply affected ; and the persons who had formed an 
estimate of his abilities from his youthful appearance, finding that they 
had judged erroneously, expressed concern for the unkindness of their 
remarks, and joined with the rest in earnestly requesting him to visit 
them again, even in the place of Mr. Cooper. 

After his removal from home his parents, of course, were very anxious 
to know in what manner he was received in the different places, and 
how he succeeded in his preaching ; and in answer to their inquiries, 
Mr. Eggleston informed them by letter, that the ministry of their son 
gave great and general satisfaction ; for, had he been employed in the 


ministry many years, his sermons could hardly have been more edify- 
ing and instructive. 

Mr. Watson remained in the Newark circuit, as Mr. Cooper's assist- 
ant, till the conference of 1796 ; but he had no expectation that he 
should then be received into the regular itinerancy, for he was only six- 
teen years and six months old. He was ready to obey the call of Pro- 
vidence, either by labouring in the word and doctrine, or returning to 
his secular employ. In supposing, however, that he should not be 
immediately put into the ministry he was mistaken. A person so young, 
indeed, does not appear ever to have been previously employed as a 
travelling preacher ; but it is said Mr. Cooper recommended him so 
strongly to the conference, as a person of more than ordinary piety and 
talent, that he was received upon trial ; and at Mr. Cooper's urgent 
solicitation, he was appointed with him to the Ashby-de-la-Zouch cir- 
cuit : yet, in consequence of his youth, his name was not inserted in 
the printed minutes ; nor is any mention made of him in the conference 
journal, under the date of that year. Before he left Newark the Rev 
Jonathan Edmondson preached in that town, on his way from the London 
conference to the Colne circuit. He gives the following account of 
Mr. Watson at that time : — " The moment I fixed my eyes upon him 
in the congregation, I was struck with his singular appearance. He 
was very tall and thin ; his look was serious, but dignified ; and his 
countenance indicated great intellectual power. When I left the pulpit, 
and inquired who he was, the friends told me that he was a youth of 
sixteen, who was employed in the circuit, to assist the travelling 

Mr. Watson repaired to his new appointment ; and here he co-operated 
with his colleagues, Messrs. Cooper and Burdsall, in the most faithful 
and affectionate manner, for the furtherance of the work of God. Their 
field of labour was very extensive, including what are now the circuits 
of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Burton-upon-Trent, and Uttoxeter. According 
to the testimony of his friends, who were acquainted with him at this 
period, his entire spirit and conduct proved him to be a man of God ; 
and the talent which he displayed in his ministry excited general sur- 
prise. Mr. Robert Stenson, a respectable local preacher, now resident 
m Nottingham, lived at that time in the Ashby-de-la-Zouch circuit, and 
was very intimate with Mr. Watson, having accompanied him in his 
visits to the villages in the neighbourhood of Burton. From him the 
following particulars have been received : — 

" Soon after Mr. Watson came into the circuit, I went with him 
to a village where the Methodist ministry had but recently been 
commenced, and heard him preach on Heb. iii, 2, 3. He intro- 
duced his discourse in a very luminous and interesting manner, 
and with the seriousness of an aged divine. But when he entered upon 
the discussion of his subject, I was truly astonished. From that day 
to the present I do not believe that I have ever heard the salvation of 
the Gospel, in its fulness and spirituality, more clearly set forth, or 
more impressively urged upon the acceptance of perishing sinners, than 
it was by him on that occasion. During his stay in the circuit, his 
piety, zeal, and talents bore him up in the esteem and affections of the 
people ; and although his colleagues were both of them men of supe- 
rior abilities as preachers, and had greatly the advantage over him in 


experience, yet Mr. Watson commanded equal congregations with 

" I remember to have met him one Sunday at Brislington, where he 
had begun a series of discourses on the Lord's prayer, in the delivery 
of which he gave great satisfaction to his hearers. In one of those 
discourses, when he was proceeding with considerable fluency and 
enlargement, in a moment he lost all recollection of the subject, and 
was compelled to conclude the service. Under this peculiar embar- 
rassment, his composure, humility, and submission were very apparent ; 
and these indications of piety made a deep impression upon the con- 
gregation. The effect was very striking ; and the spiritual good which 
was done rendered it a time to be remembered. Mr. Watson preached 
on the evening of that day at Burton. He commenced the service with 
more than ordinary solemnity, fully sensible of his dependence upon 
Divine aid ; the congregation was very large ; and he delivered his 
message with his usual ability and self possession, and to good effect. 
At this period his zeal was intense ; his soul, like that of the apostle, 
seemed always to ' travail in birth' for the conversion of sinners ; and 
his ministry was admirably adapted to be useful. In the pulpit he was 
deeply serious. His public addresses to the throne of grace were cha- 
racterized by great fervour ; and his preaching was lucid and powerful. 
He was careful to discriminate, in almost all his discourses, between 
the open violater of the law of God, the self-righteous Pharisee, the 
formal professor of religion, the mourning penitent, the backsliding 
Christian, and the upright and conscientious believer ; and he gave to 
every one his portion of meat in due season. The matter of his ser- 
mons was solid and important ; and they were remarkable for clear- 
ness, fulness, and precision. He was bold as a lion in the cause of 
Christ, without any appearance of forwardness and self confidence. 
In preaching he was very faithful, energetic, pointed, and successful. 
During the first six or seven months he laboured very hard, even be- 
yond his strength ; and was instrumental in the conversion of many 
souls to God. A blessed revival of religion took place in Ashby, 
Griffydam, Burton, Repton, and some other places, toward which his 
services, in conjunction with those of his fellow labourers, were greatly 
conducive. His earnest exertions, both in prayer and preaching, were 
more than his feeble constitution could bear. His health, therefore, 
failed ; and he was obliged to return home, and rest for some months, 
in order to the recovery of his strength. This loss of his labours was 
greatly lamented by the congregations ; for he was generally beloved 
by the people. In his intercourse with his friends and the societies, 
he was more like a man of forty years of age, than a youth of sixteen ; 
exhibiting an admirable mixture of Christian cheerfulness, sobriety, 
and seriousness. His habits were sociable and friendly, and his com- 
pany very agreeable. At the same time he was deeply studious, and 
his thirst for useful knowledge was unbounded. I knew him well from 
the time that he was sixteen years of age till he was twenty ; and in 
regard to that period of his life, among persons of the same age, 1 have 
not found his equal for piety, moral worth, and efficient preaching. In the 
course of forty years' experience and observation, and intercourse with 
the Church, I have never met with any young man who, in these respects, 
could, in my estimation, bear a comparison with Richard Watson." 


With this testimony, that of Mr. Burdsall is in full accordance. Re- 
ferring to the year which he and Mr. Watson spent together in the 
Ashby-de-la-Zouch circuit, he says, " At that early age he exhibited 
such ardour in the pursuit of knowledge of every sort, as exposed him 
to the danger of becoming desultory in reading and study ; and he was 
only preserved from this by the quickness of his apprehension, and the 
tenacity of his memory. He was eager to know, and had a mind capa- 
ble of acquiring knowledge in the most rapid manner. His father sup- 
plied him with money for the purchase of books ; so that, as far as he 
had judgment to guide him in the selection, he had the means of 
improvement at his command. His circuit, indeed, was extensive ; so 
that his studies were greatly interrupted ; nor did his superintendent, 
though very fond of him on account of his superior intellect and fine 
spirit, take any pains to forward and direct his attempts at mental cul- 
tivation. In consequence of these disadvantages he fell into some indis- 
cretions, both in the nature and mode of his studies ; but these were 
afterward corrected by his growing experience. It has been stated, 
that he never preached twice from the same text, even in those early 
days ; but this, like many other things which have appeared in print since 
his lamented decease, is a fabrication, neither according with his prin- 
ciples nor his practice. The fertility of his invention, and the vivid- 
ness of his imagination, indeed, gave him a greater diversity of subjects 
than a person so young as he was could otherwise have commanded ; 
and the precocity of his understanding gave considerable solidity and 
interest to his pulpit labours. He was naturally cheerful and buoyant, 
but not trifling ; and his general seriousness rendered him acceptable 
and useful to all. Such was Richard Watson when we travelled to- 
gether at Ashby." 

When Mr. Cooper pressed the conference to receive Mr. Watson as 
an itinerant preacher, and requested that they might be stationed to- 
gether, he incurred a responsibility, the full extent of which he does 
not appear to have appreciated. There are some ministers, in all reli- 
gious communities, who obtain a sort of elementary acquaintance with 
the various branches of knowledge, and who do not seem to have either 
an inclination or a capacity for farther attainments. To them a right 
.course of study is a matter of minor importance. They become familiar 
with the first principles of religion ; and these they inculcate with 
fidelity, acceptance, and success ; accompanying their public ministra- 
tions with pastoral visitation, and recommending practical Christianity 
by a holy and upright life. Such ministers fill a very important sta- 
tion in the Church ; and are often largely instrumental in the conver- 
sion of men to God, and in the edification of believers. But Richard 
Watson was manifestly not a man of this class. As a Christian minis- 
ter he was ready to engage with alacrity in every duty of his office, 
and was thoroughly imbued with its spirit ; but, at the same time, his 
mind was inquisitive, penetrating, quick of perception, and untiring in 
its activity. It was evident that he would not be satisfied with a super- 
ficial knowledge. of any subject that might come under his investiga- 
tion ; and the whole world of thought and speculation lay before him, 
and invited his attention. History and philosophy, in their various 
branches ; the principal controversies on which the Christian sects are 
divided ; the evidences of revelation ; the facts, prophecies, criticism 

Vol. I. 3 


doctrines, and interpretation of the Scriptures, were all likely to come 
under his review, and to undergo his strict scrutiny. To him, there- 
fore, it was a matter of the greatest moment, that his studies should be 
prosecuted with regularity ; and especially that he should thoroughly 
understand the principles upon which all theological investigations 
ought to be conducted. Like the greater part of his brethren, he had 
been thrust into the ministry without much of that scholastic training 
which is so desirable and advantageous ; and hence a judicious super- 
intendence of his course of self tuition, considering the peculiarities 
of his character, was necessary at least to prevent the waste of time 
and labour. With this superintendence, unhappily, he was not favour- 
ed. Mr. Birdsall, though somewhat his senior, was, like him, only 
in the first year of his itinerancy. Mr. Cooper loved and admired him ; 
but gave him no effectual assistance in the pursuit of knowledge. He 
neither taught him how to render his classical learning available in re- 
ference to the ministry, nor suggested to him what books he might 
read with the greatest advantage. That he was preserved from doc- 
trinal error, with a mind so constituted, and left entirely to itself at this 
early period, is doubtless to be attributed, under the blessing of God, 
to his personal piety ; and the practical mistakes into which he fell in 
regard to the nature and method of his studies, his own good sense 
enabled him subsequently to rectify ; but to the end of his life he la- 
mented the time which he lost in his youth, by a desultory mode of 
reading and study ; and he therefore felt particularly concerned for 
such young preachers as are placed in circumstances similar to his 
own. Next to the reading of the Greek Testament, and of Mr. Wes- 
ley's sermons, a careful perusal of Bishop Pearson's " Exposition of 
the Apostles' Creed" would have been to him one of the most useful 
exercises. The profound, original, and orthodox views of revealed 
truth, which that incomparable work contains, would have served to 
settle his mind, and fix his theological principles ; the perfect sim- 
plicity and rugged terseness of its diction would have corrected that 
taste for excessive rhetorical ornament into which juvenile minds are 
apt to fall ; and the ample body of notes with which it is enriched would 
have called forth his classical learning, and have been an excellent 
introduction to the study of ecclesiastical history, especially in regard, 
to Christian doctrine. It is painful to see a mind of the first order left 
to luxuriate, without any of the salutary restraints and directions which 
a just discipline and experience woidd supply. To this day it is a 
serious defect in the system of Wesleyan Methodism, that it makes 
no adequate provision for the education of its ministers. A few of 
them, by the force of their own talents and application, have risen to 
considerable eminence as scholars and preachers ; but the usefulness 
of the greater part of them has been retarded through life by the want 
of a sound literary and theological training. 

At the conference of 1797, Mr. Watson's name was placed in the 
list of the preachers on trial who had travelled one year ; and he was 
appointed to the Castle-Donington circuit, under the superintendency 
of Mr. George Sargent, through whose ministry he had been convinced 
of sin. By some mistake he was called Robert ; an error which was 
repeated the following year in the minutes of conference. In this 
station he conducted himself in an upright and Christian manner; 


attended his appointments with regularity ; and preached with fidelity 
and success ; but his studies still retained their desultory character ; 
so that his improvement in solid and useful learning was not equal to 
his opportunities and capacity. 

Mr. Watson has been heard to say that, during these early years of 
his ministry, one of his most favourite books was Matthew Henry's 
" Method for Prayer." His admiration of this work was more than 
ordinarily strong ; he carried the volume about with him ; and scarcely 
a day passed in which he did not spend some time in the perusal of it. 
From this manual he doubtless derived considerable advantage. It 
would suggest to him many excellent plans of sermons ; assist him in 
the Scriptural elucidation of several important topics ; and give to his 
public addresses to the throne of grace a sober and devotional charac- 
ter, as well as great variety both of thought and expression. But the 
constant reading of that book, at this early period of his life, was pro- 
ductive of one inconvenience which he regretted, and from which he 
was never entirely free. It induced a habit of quoting Scripture incor- 
rectly. His extempore citations from the word of God, in his dis- 
courses, were not always verbally correct, even when the true meaning 
was given. Such a habit was likely to be produced by the daily use 
of a book consisting principally of passages of holy writ, not literally 
quoted ; but so altered as to form continuous supplications, praises, and 
thanksgivings, on all subjects connected with personal religion, and the 
interests of the Church and the world. The habit, however, into which 
Mr. Watson fell was rather the result of an immoderate use of an ex- 
cellent book, than a necessary consequence of such compilations upon 
a youthful mind. As the doctrines and duties inculcated in the Chris- 
tian pulpit derive all their authority from the word of God, that word 
should always be adduced with the most perfect accuracy ; and an 
aptitude in doing this cannot be too sedulously cultivated by every 
Christian preacher. In the latter years of his life Mr. Watson was 
not under the influence of this habit to any serious extent ; but he was 
aware of the defect, and attributed it to the cause just specified. 

During Mr. Watson's stay in the Castle-Donington circuit, he did 
not satisfy himself with a general inculcation of evangelical truth ; but 
directed his preaching against prevalent evils, under whatever form 
they might be presented. In those times the theological sentiments 
of Mr. Winchester excited considerable attention among religious 
people. By connecting Calvin's theory of absolute predestination, 
with Arminius's doctrine of general redemption, and applying his prin- 
ciples to the fallen angels, as well as to the human race, he contrived 
to secure, as he thought, the final restoration of all lapsed intelligences. 
He contended zealously for the ultimate recovery to purity and heaven, 
not only of that part of mankind who die in their sins, but of all the 
fiends of hell; and in the teeth of Holy Scripture contemplated a 
period when the " worm that dieth not" shall expire, " the fire that never 
shall be quenched" will cease to burn, and when the apostate of whom 
the Lord said, " Good it had been for that man if he had never been 
bom," shall bless the day when he was brought into existence. The 
works of this theologian, which are now nearly forgotten, display con- 
siderable ingenuity ; yet they are full of sophistry ; and his canons of 
Scriptural interpretation are so licentious as to lead directly to skepti- 


cism. To superficial thinkers, however, his scheme appeared to exalt 
the Divine benevolence, and to be sanctioned by reason and humani- 
ty; and hence, not a few persons professing godliness, in different 
parts of the kingdom, became its admirers and advocates. Young as 
he was, Mr. Watson saw the character and tendency of this popular 
error. He perceived that it makes the sinner against God the self- 
complacent judge of his own demerit ; that it magnifies the mercy of 
God at the expense of his justice and truth ; contradicts the express 
testimony of revelation ; represents the great end of legal punishment, 
not as the maintenance of order, by operating upon the fears of moral 
agents, but merely the reformation of the offender, leaving the autho- 
rity of law unprovided for ; and that in its moral effect, it is equally 
pernicious to the Church and the world. By holding out to the unre- 
generate the assurance of final happiness, even if they should die in 
their sins, it neutralizes the principal motive to immediate repentance 
and conversion ; and renders wicked men scarcely objects of pity to 
their pious neighbours. Religious people are, in effect, told, that 
whether they are watchful, circumspect, and devout, or negligent, luke- 
warm, and even immoral, they cannot in the end fall short of salvation. 
The Church of Rome, fruitful in inventions, devised a purgatory, as a 
sort of middle place between heaven and hell. Winchester made hell 
itself a purgatory. He taught that the design of the Almighty in kin- 
dling its fires, and in subjecting men and angels to its miseries, is to bring 
them to repentance, and prepare them for his kingdom ; so that the 
torments of hell are the road to celestial blessedness. With this en- 
snaring modification of Antinomianism Mr. Watson held no compro- 
mise. He detected its sophistry, and warned his hearers of the fear- 
ful consequences connected with its practical adoption. A sermon 
which he preached upon this subject, at Barrow, commanded great 
attention. It roused the opposition of one of Winchester's disciples, 
and led to the interchange of several letters between him and the 
preacher who had so faithfully raised the warning voice. This cor- 
respondence, it appears, is irrecoverably lost ; but there is reason to 
believe that in conducting it Mr. Watson showed a knowledge of the 
questions at issue, and powers of argumentation, which were highly 
honourable to a person of his age. On several subjects of this nature, 
he gave pleasing indications of his future eminence as a theologian. 



Mr. Watson's removal to the Leicester Circuit — Method of Study — Case of 
strong Temptation — Poetical Composition — Appointment to the Derby Circuit — 
Success of his preaching in Derby — First Publication — Disputes in the Methodist 
Connection — Character and Labours in the Derby Circuit — Admission into full 
Connection with the Conference — Appointment to the Hinckley Circuit — Begins 
the Study of Hebrew — Theological Studies — Indiscretion — Reported to have 
embraced heterodox Opinions — Unkindly treated — Retires from the Itinerant 
Ministry — Did not hold the Tenets imputed to him — Enters into Business — 
Marriage — Divine Call to the Ministry — Becomes a private Member of the 
Methodist New Connection — Enters upon the Ministry in that Body — Appoint- 
ment to the Manchester Circuit. 

During the year in which Mr. Watson was stationed at Castle- 
Donington, he spent a Sunday in Leicester, having exchanged places 
with one of the preachers resident in that town. On this day he 
preached two sermons on Hebrews xi, 6 : " He that cometh to God 
must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently 
seek him." In the first of these discourses he undertook to prove the 
being and perfections of God, in opposition to that branch of infidel 
philosophy which denies a first cause, a superintending providence, and 
a moral government ; and in the second, he directed the attention of 
the congregation to the manner in which God is to be sought, and the 
reward which will crown the exertions of those who seek him accord- 
ing to his word and will. These sermons displayed such a range of 
thought, a power of reasoning, a richness and force of diction, and a 
glow of pious feeling, as excited great surprise, especially when viewed 
in connection with the youthful aspect of the preacher ; and a strong 
desire was expressed that he might be appointed to the Leicester circuit 
the ensuing year. A request to that effect was forwarded to the con- 
ference ; and he was accordingly sent to that station, under the super- 
intendency of the Rev. Jonathan Edmondson. This appointment was 
in every respect a happy one. His lot was cast among an affectionate 
people, who esteemed and loved him ; and his labours were both ac- 
ceptable and useful. Here one of his most intimate and faithful friend- 
ships was formed, — that with Mr. Carr, — which only ended with his 
life. But the greatest advantage which he derived from this appoint- 
ment arose from his intercourse with his superintendent ; who was 
himself a great reader, a hard student, and withal a kind-hearted and 
friendly man. From him Mr. Watson received valuable advice and 
help in the acquisition of different branches of knowledge ; and for the 
person of this enlightened " guide of his youth" he ever after cherished 
a strong regard. The following particulars respecting this part of Mr. 
Watson's personal history have been furnished by Mr. Edmondson, who 
has been spared to survive his distinguished friend : — 

" In the year 1798 Mr. Watson was stationed with me at Leicester. 
I soon perceived that he was a youth of very superior parts ; that he 
had a most surprising grasp of intellect ; and that, if he held on his 
way, he would become one of our brightest luminaries. I could not 
render him all the assistance he should have had at that critical period 
of his life ; but I did what I could ; and, with a generosity of soul 
worthy of himself, he always expressed a grateful sense of my poor 


" As an inmate of our family he was social, friendly, and affectionate. 
He gave no trouble, was well-pleased with every thing, and was greatly 
beloved by all under my roof. We never saw him out of temper. He 
never put on any lofty airs ; but was humble, modest, and unassuming. 
We never had an angry word, an unkind look, or the slightest interrup- 
tion of a most delightful friendship ; and when he left us, at the end of 
the year, we sustained a loss in our domestic circle which we deeply 

" The studies of Mr. Watson, before he came to Leicester, had been 
extremely irregular and desultory ; and he had acquired such a habit 
of passing rapidly from one thing to another, without going to the bot- 
tom of any, that it was difficult for him to fix his thoughts for any length 
of time upon any given subject. But when he conquered that habit, 
he could acquire more information in a few days, than some others 
could in as many months. Perceiving this defect, I strongly urged 
the necessity of steady perseverance in all his literary pursuits ; and 
afterward found that my advice had not been disregarded. 

" The principal subject of his study was divinity ; but he did not 
altogether neglect the sciences. What he had learned of Latin when 
a boy he had partly forgotten ; and he had never turned his attention 
to the Greek of the New Testament. But in after life, by persevering 
application, he acquired a familiar acquaintance with both those 

" As a reader, he had no taste for common and ordinary works. 
Standard books, of high reputation, were his favourites ; and that cir- 
cumstance assisted him much, when he became an author, both in 
regard to the style and sentiments of his valuable publications ; though 
I am not aware that he adopted any writer as a model of composition. 
His memory was remarkably strong. He told Mrs. Edmondson, that if 
he read a work once, it was almost all his own ; and that if he read it 
twice, it was his own altogether. 

" I gave Mr. Watson a plan of reading and study, adapted to the 
itinerant life, which I had formed for myself, and which I afterward 
published in my ' Essay on the Christian Ministry.' How far this plan 
was observed by him, while he continued to travel, I cannot say ; but 
I know it met with his approbation, and that he adopted it while we 
were stationed together. When we went out into the circuit, our sad- 
dle bags were loaded with books ; and when we returned, we generally 
gave an account of what we had read and studied. Our circuit was 
not one of the most extensive, but it included Melton-Mowbray ; and 
Ave were a fortnight out and a fortnight at home. During the fortnight 
at home we walked thirty or forty miles a week ; and supplied Leicester, 
and six or eight adjacent villages, generally returning home three or 
four miles after the evening service. I mention this to show the 
necessity and utility of the plan now given to an itinerant preacher. 

" While I was in that circuit I made a resolution to select some 
important subject of meditation on every journey, when I was alone ; 
or of conversation, on every journey when I had company. This I 
recommended to Mr. Watson, and have reason to believe he continued 
to observe it in after life ; for I have heard that he could employ his 
thoughts on the most profound subjects while walking even in the noisy 
streets of London. 


" Finding that Mr. Watson had an extraordinary gift in composition, 
I proposed that he should write essays on given subjects, and read 
them to me when finished. This he did with considerable success, and 
very much to my satisfaction. The first subject, I believe, was the 
best method of redeeming time ; but what became of that, or his other 
early essays, I cannot say. I know that they were valuable ; and am 
of opinion, that, if they could be recovered, they would do him credit, 
even now, when his literary character stands so high. We had then 
several works on the ministry, and many ordination sermons and charges, 
which we examined with great care. Mr. Watson compared them 
together, and prepared a treatise on the Christian ministry ; but that has 
been long since lost or destroyed. 

" Mr. Watson's temper was noble and generous, without the slightest 
tinge of suspicion, or mixture of either littleness or meanness. He 
indulged in the innocent cheerfulness of youth, and occasionally amused 
his friends with anecdotes of an extraordinary character ; but he was 
generally grave, solemn, and dignified. 

" When he travelled with me he was much esteemed as a preacher, 
though not remarkably popular. His sermons were not of that finished 
character which they assumed in his riper years ; and yet there was 
in them a strength of mind and a grasp of thought which was admired 
by all judicious hearers. I heard him occasionally ; and was of opinion 
that his discourses were more remarkable for boldness of thought, and 
appropriate figures of rhetoric, than for regularity of composition." 

While in the Leicester circuit Mr. Watson's studies were not ex- 
clusively directed to divinity, literature, and science. He also turned 
his attention to some of the useful arts of life ; and his ever-active mind 
aspired to an acquaintance with every subject within his reach. In his 
visits to the different villages he made minute inquiries into the nature 
of the various manufactures in which the people were engaged. Nor 
did he satisfy himself with verbal answers, and the inspection of the 
machines and operations which were presented to his view ; but at the 
houses where he lodged he often tried his skill in wool combing, stock- 
ing weaving, and other employments, as a matter of relaxation from 
severer pursuits. 

With some men, preaching is a sort of mechanical exercise. They 
can speak with fluency on most theological topics, especially after a 
certain degree of premeditation and writing ; and, relying upon their 
own powers of memory and elocution, they are accustomed to address 
their congregations with little variation of either manner or feeling. 
Very different from this were Mr. Watson's views and habits in regard 
to the Christian ministry. It was, indeed, his practice both to study 
and write with reference to the pulpit ; but he felt, at the same time, 
that he could not preach with comfort to himself, unless the Holy Spirit 
were to excite in him suitable affections when delivering God's truth ; 
and thus give him an " utterance" which unassisted human nature can 
never attain ; and that he could not preach with profit to the people, 
unless that Spirit were to apply the word to their understandings and 
consciences. He therefore gave himself to prayer, especially in his 
closet ; and earnestly implored the blessing of God both upon himself 
and his hearers. Although his mind was sometimes exercised by strong 
temptations, in common with every " good minister of Jesus Christ ;" 


yet he was not disappointed of the Divine blessing ; but often proved, 
that " where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" in preaching, as 
well as in acts of devotion, and in religious duties generally. A re- 
markable instance of this kind occurred one Thursday evening in 
Leicester. On entering the pulpit, at the usual time of Divine service, 
he requested the prayers of the congregation in his behalf in a very 
feeling manner ; adding, that his mind had been in a state of distressing 
perplexity and embarrassment through the day, nearly the whole of 
which he had spent in prayer ; that, immediately before he came to 
the chapel, he had been upon his knees a full hour, pleading with God 
for his blessing and help ; and that he was still in doubt whether he 
should be able to preach at all. After this statement, by which the 
sympathy of his friends was excited, and their supplications for him 
were called forth, he read, as his text, " My Spirit shall not always 
strive with man," Gen. vi, 3 ; and then preached with great enlarge- 
ment and power. The sermon was very striking and impressive ; and 
its effect upon the congregation most salutary and beneficial. Nearly 
all present were deeply affected by the train of thought into which he 
was led ; and several persons united in an urgent request that the 
sermon might be printed. To prevent all possibility of pecuniary loss 
to him, and to express the sense they entertained of the discourse, they 
engaged to assist in the sale of the publication, and pledged themselves 
to give half a guinea for every copy which they might purchase for 
their own use. He acknowledged his obligations to the kindness of 
his friends, but refused to comply with their request ; perhaps thinking 
that it was the influence which attended the delivery of his sermon that 
constituted its principal interest ; and that he had no reason to believe 
the same influence would attend its perusal, should it appear in print. 
Many persons who have heard particular sermons Avith deep feeling, 
wonder whence their emotions originated, when the same sermons are 
read in silence and with critical attention. 

That Mr. Watson's mind was eminently poetical, will be readily 
conceded by those who have attended his ministry, or read his works ; 
but at no period of his life did he pay much attention to poetical com- 
position. His mental conceptions often partook of the true sublime ; and 
he could easily clothe them in diction of appropriate force and beauty ; 
but it was seldom that he suffered his thoughts, noble and lofty as they 
were, to flow in " harmonious numbers." Occasionally he indulged 
himself in versification ; but his mind was too busily employed with 
other subjects, which he deemed of superior importance, to study poe- 
try as an art. One of his poetic effusions, written at Leicester, and 
presented to his friend Mr. Carr of that town, has been preserved ; and 
is no mean specimen of his capabilities in that department of litera- 
ture. He gave it as an " imitation ;" but the name of the poet whose 
manner he professed to copy has escaped recollection. Some of the 
thoughts, it will be observed, are borrowed from Adam's morning hymn, 
as given in Paradise Lost. The structure of the verse occasionally 
indicates a want of practice ; but the youth who wrote these stanzas 
could, in after life, had he turned his attention to the subject, have pro- 
duced poetry of more than ordinary merit. 



These are thy works alone, O God of power, 

And these thy heavenly attributes display ; 
Moving, reveal new glories every hour, 

And pencil thy perfections bright as day. 

Fairest of all, thyself enthroned above, 

Fountain of being, life's ethereal flame, 
Object Divine of universal love, 

In ages past, and years to come, the same. 

Ye morning stars, the first-born sons of light, 
Ye angel choirs, pour forth your notes along; 

Stretch all your powers, your ardours all unite, 
And swell the' august, the universal song. 

Struck out of darkness, I, while life's pure flame 

Shall glow within, and animate this clay, 
Oft as the rising sun thy praise proclaim, 

And oft as he, declining, ends the day. 

Praise from thy lower works to thee shall rise, 

Inanimate and animate conspire ; 
The variegated earth, and starry skies, 

And brutes themselves, shall strike the sounding lyre. 

The sun, the mighty sovereign of the day, 

Whose powerful beam the genial warmth inspires, 

Shines not in vain, but pays to thee the lay, 

Who gav'st him birth, and kindledst up his fires. 

Queen of the night, we hail thy silver gleams, 

Instance of goodness and of care Divine, 
Which, when we lose the sun's superior beams, 

To lighten up our darkness bid thee shine. 

The starry arch, the wide ethereal blue, 

The comet's sweep in vast eccentric line, 
The circling systems, and the fiery glow 

Of central suns, all praise thee as they shine. 

The rushing hurricane, the whisp'ring breeze, 

The pois'nous wind, and the salubrious air, 
The gentle zephyrs quiv'ring on the trees, 

Alike thy justice and thy love declare. 

The boist'rous ocean, too, the finny swarm, 

The flowery tribes that on earth's surface grow, 

All that the philosophic sage can charm, 
All that is grand above, or good below : 

Join nature all, join all harmonious tongues ! 

Sacred to thee be every tuneful string ! 
See clouds of incense rise ; hark, hark their songs, — 
" Great is the Lord, our Father, God, and King!" 
1798 - R. Watson. 

At the conference of 1799, Mr. Watson took leave of his esteemed 
superintendent and kind friends in Leicester, and repaired to Derby, 
where he was appointed to labour with the Rev. Messrs. William Shel- 
merdine and Anthony B. Seckerson ; men whom he esteemed and 
loved to the end of life, for their piety, sense, and Christian affection. 
Mr. Sargent was then leaving the Derby circuit ; and Mr. Watson 
hastened to his new appointment, where he spent a week in the house. 


of his former colleague and his kind wife before their removal. On 
the first Sunday after his arrival he preached in Derby ; and under his 
ministry two persons are said to have obtained the salvation of the 
Gospel. One of these was a blind woman belonging to the work- 
house ; who from that time adorned her profession, and some years 
after died in the Lord. He was greatly affected by this display of 
the Divine goodness, in thus owning his instrumentality ; and resolved 
to devote himself afresh to the service of God and his Church. His 
personal piety was sensibly improved by this occurrence. Mr. Edmond- 
son says, " The friends in Derby esteemed Mr. Watson very much ; 
and thought that, if he held on his way, he would be a first rate preacher 
in the connection. That year he generally paid me a visit once a 
month, either at Burton-upon-Trent, or at some other convenient place 
in the circuit ; so that our intercouse, as friends and fellow students, 
was kept up with mutual pleasure." 

Mr. Seckerson states, that, during this year, Mr. Watson " possess- 
ed an affectionate interest in the regards of his fellow labourers ; with 
whom he acted in the most entire concert^ in maintaining and exer- 
cising the various branches of Christian discipline ; and especially 
upon one trying occasion, when a strenuous effort was made to exclude 
one of our societies and congregations from a chapel which .they had 
built, and in which they had long and peaceably worshipped God. The 
attempt thus made was happily rendered unsuccessful ; and the reli- 
gious privileges of our people were preserved." 

In regard to Mr. Watson's mental character and habits at this period, 
Mr. Seckerson adds, " It is observed, in the Life of the late Bishop 
Heber, ' His elder brother used to say, Reginald devoured books, rather 
than read them. At almost a single glance his eye caught the con- 
tents of a whole page ; and his memory was so remarkably tenacious, 
that such passages as particularly struck him were remembered with 
almost verbal accuracy.' Very similar to this was the strength of 
mind and memory which I have often noticed and admired in Mr. 
Watson, when we were stationed together, and he was only in the 
nineteenth year of his age." 

While Mr. Watson was stationed in Derby, a clergyman in that 
town excited some attention by the circulation of a weak and illiberal 
pamphlet, entitled, " An Address to the People called Methodists." 
The design of this unworthy publication was, to alienate the public 
confidence from the Methodist ministry, by attempting to prove that 
the preachers have no legitimate authority ; and that the doctrines 
which they teach are erroneous and enthusiastic. The writer con- 
tended, that there is no regeneration beside that which is assumed to 
take place in baptism ; that the Methodists lay claim to the extraordi- 
nary gifts of the Holy Spirit ; that they deprive men of innocent plea- 
sures and gratifications, and subject them to needless terrors and 
alarms ; that justification is a very difficult subject, concerning which 
there have been many clashing opinions among good men ; and that 
people had far better set themselves to discharge the duties of life, 
than give themselves anxious concern respecting the manner of their 
justification before God. The charges and reasonings of this author 
had been advanced and refuted a hundred times ; yet as the pamphlet 
was extensively and gratuitously circulated, and was calculated to make 


an injurious impression in certain quarters, an antidote was deemed 
desirable ; and Mr. Watson was requested by the friends in Derby to 
write an answer to it. With this request he complied ; and produced 
his maiden publication, under the title of " An Apology for the Method- 
ists ; in a Letter to the Rev. J. Hotham, B. A., Rector of St. Wer- 
burgh's, Derby, in answer to a Pamphlet lately circulated among the 
inhabitants of Derby, entitled, ' An Address to the People called Me- 
thodists. By Richard Watson, preacher of the Gospel." Of course, 
this production was vastly inferior to the eloquent, argumentative, and 
finished works which in subsequent years emanated from his pen ; yet 
it was no discredit to the youth of nineteen. As the author with whom 
he entered the lists had indulged himself pretty freely in invective and 
insinuation, and had given himself no trouble to ascertain the senti- 
ments of the people whom he assailed, Mr. Watson treats him with 
little ceremony, and tells him some truths which we may suppose 
would not be very palatable. There are passages in this concise pub- 
lication of considerable power and acuteness, and which give pleasing 
indications of future eminence ; although the style is not formed, and 
the punctuation inaccurate. The motto which is selected from Cow- 
per is very appropriate, and describes the character of those rash men 
who speak and write before they either read or think. 

During these early years of Mr. Watson's itinerancy the Methodist 
connection was greatly agitated by controversy respecting ecclesiasti- 
cal order and discipline, and the administration of the sacraments. 
Many of the societies had long desired to receive the Lord's Supper 
at the hands of their own preachers ; and it had required all Mr. Wes- 
ley's influence and energy to repress that feeling, and preserve the 
general tranquillity of the body. While he lived, the power of regulat- 
ing the connection was vested in himself; and at his death, in the year 
1791, by his appointment it devolved upon the conference, the mem- 
bers of which were placed in a situation of great embarrassment and 
fearful responsibility. The call for the sacraments in the Methodist 
chapels, and for public religious service in what were called Church 
hours, in several quarters, was loud and urgent ; and in addition to 
these demands, not a few contended for a larger measure of lay agency 
in the management of the societies, and of the general affairs of the 
connection, and for guards against the possible abuse of ministerial 
power. After anxiously and maturely considering these subjects, the 
conference met the wishes of the societies by adopting the " Plan of 
Pacification," in the year 1795, and various other important regula- 
tions which were detailed in an " Address to the Societies," in the 
year 1797. The concessions and arrangements contained in these 
documents gave great and general satisfaction to the connection ; and 
their practical wisdom and utility are demonstrated by the fact, that, 
so far as the subjects to which they relate are concerned, to the pre- 
sent day they have secured the peace of the body ; and its prosperity 
and success during this time have exceeded all that had been pre- 
viously witnessed. These measures, however, did not meet the views 
of every one ; and a few preachers, with a number of private members 
of society and others, separated from their brethren, and formed the 
" Methodist New Connection," in the year 1798. 

In the discussions which led to these results, Mr. Watson took 


little or no interest. He was satisfied with the discipline of the body, 
and with those modifications of it which men of greater wisdom and 
experience than himself deemed it necessary to make in peculiar 
emergencies. The societies in the circuits where he laboured were 
in peace ; and his mind was too much occupied with Biblical and the- 
ological studies, and the acquisition of information on all subjects within 
his reach, to concern himself with affairs of this nature. He read 
none of the numerous publications, which were then so eagerly and 
extensively circulated, recommending deep and extensive changes in 
the Methodist discipline and order, but with diligence and zeal pursued 
" the noiseless tenor of his way ;" for his leading desire was, to be a 
pastor according to God's own heart, feeding the people with know- 
ledge and understanding, Jer. iii, 15. His inattention to the subject 
of Church government perhaps may be excused, but it is not to be 
commended. Had he carefully studied the Methodist economy, and 
compared it with the principles of ecclesiastical order laid down in the 
New Testament, he would have been better qualified for his official 
duties as a Methodist preacher, and better prepared for those unseen 
trials which awaited him. 

His character and labours in the Derby circuit were very cordially 
approved by the societies and congregations, who were anxious to 
secure his services a second year ; but the delicacy of his health, he 
thought, rendered him unfit for that station, and induced him to decline 
their request to remain with them as one of their ministers. The wisest 
of men are often very imperfect judges of things relating to themselves. 
Had Mr. Watson continued at Derby, with his faithful and affectionate 
colleagues, Messrs. Shelmerdine and Seckerson, who knew his worth, 
he would have escaped the calamitous circumstances in which he was 
involved during the ensuing year, and which filled with bitter sorrow 
and vexation so large a portion of his life. The circuit was very ex- 
tensive, reaching to a place within four miles of Chesterfield ; many 
of the journeys were long and bleak ; the accommodations in several 
of the country places, both in regard to food and lodging, were very 
indifferent ; he was afraid lest his strength should fail, as it had done 
during the first year of his itinerancy ; and therefore wished to be 
removed to another station, more congenial to his habits, and feeble 
constitution. The friends in Derby, especially the more judicious and 
intelligent of them, duly appreciated his excellencies, and were sorry 
to be deprived of his ministry so soon ; and therefore took an affec- 
tionate leave of him at the expiration of the year, when he accompa- 
nied his superintendent to London, for the purpose of being admitted 
into full ministerial connection with the conference. Having passed 
acceptably through the four years of his probation, and undergone a 
strict examination, both in regard to his personal piety and his doctrinal 
views, he was cordially approved by his fathers and brethren, and 
solemnly set apart to the full duties of the Christian ministry, and 
appointed to the Hinckley circuit, having then attained to the age of 
twenty years and six months. 

Mr. Watson entered upon his work in his new appointment under 
very encouraging circumstances. His talents as a preacher had been 
greatly improved by exercise ; his attainments as a theologian were 
very considerable ; he had the full confidence of his brethren ; by 


attending the conference he had seen and heard the fathers and most 
esteemed ministers of the connection ; and he must have been more 
deeply than ever impressed with the efficiency of the body to which 
he belonged, and its adaptation to reform the morals and promote the 
salvation of mankind. His past success, his present prospects, and 
the examples of ministerial zeal and ability with which he was sur- 
rounded, all conspired to operate upon his ardent and ingenuous mind, 
and to stimulate him to renewed diligence both in his ministry and 
studies. Previously to this period he had walked twenty miles to hear 
the far-famed Mr. Bradburn preach ; and he never lost the impression 
which the sermon of that distinguished orator produced. He often 
related this adventure ; and sometimes said, in reference to it, " I am 
not a very excitable subject ; but Mr. Bradburn's preaching affected 
my whole frame. I felt the thrill to the very extremity of my fingers ; 
and my hair actually seemed to stand on end." Mr. Edmondson, his 
faithful and tried friend, was now in the neighbouring circuit of Ashby- 
de-la-Zouch ; and their improving intercourse was still continued. — • 
" While he was stationed at Hinckley," says that excellent man, " Mr. 
Watson paid me a visit at a village near Ashby ; when I advised him 
to enter upon the study of the Hebrew language, assuring him, from 
my own limited experience, that he might soon read a considerable 
portion of the Old Testament with ease. He took the advice ; and on 
that day month, meeting me again at the same place, he read the first 
Psalm in Hebrew, accounting grammatically for every word ; and he 
read to me a beautiful paraphrase on the whole Psalm, which he had 
drawn up from the fine ideas expressed in the original. Such, indeed, 
was the strength of his mind, that he could quickly master any subject, 
however difficult, to which he directed his attention." 

For some time he had been successfully engaged in reading the 
Greek Testament ; and having, with such encouraging results, entered 
upon the study of the Hebrew Bible, the rich and endless stores of 
sacred literature were placed within his reach, and offered the highest 
gratification to his understanding and taste. But while he was thus 
employed in the duties of his office, and in laudable endeavours to 
render himself " an able minister of the New Testament," he met with 
trials which he had never anticipated, and for which therefore he was 
not prepared. His happiness as a man, and his usefulness as a minis- 
ter, were about to undergo a serious interruption. His reading was 
unbounded ; but it was not always judiciously selected ; and perhaps 
it was not in every instance duly sanctified by prayer. At this time 
the doctrine of the trinity engaged his special attention ; and he read 
all the books within his reach that bore upon the subject. Some of 
these were far from paying that absolute deference to the Holy Scrip- 
tures which is requisite in all questions of this nature ; and mixed up 
the simple and authoritative declarations of inspiration with the specu- 
lations of a vain philosophy. It is not therefore surprising, that his 
mind was occasionally perplexed, though he never denied those sound 
and orthodox views of Divine truth in which he had been trained. — 
When the late Mr. Benson was a young man, and devoted to theological 
studies, he enjoyed the friendship and correspondence of Mr. Wesley ; 
and happy would it have been for Mr. Watson had he been favoured 
with the advice and control of some such master-mind in the earlier 


years of his public life. It was his misfortune to be generally asso-" 
ciated with men greatly inferior to himself in knowledge and intellec- 
tual power. In one of his letters to Mr. Benson, Mr. Wesley says, 
" I believe just what is revealed, and no more ; but I do not pretend to 
account for it, or to solve the difficulties that may attend it. Let angels 
do this if they can ; but I think they cannot. I think even these 

' Would find no end, in wandering mazes lost.' 

Some years since I read about fifty pages of Dr. Watts's ingenious 
treatise upon the glorified humanity of Christ. But it so confounded 
my intellects, and plunged me into such unprofitable reasonings, yea, 
dangerous ones, that I Avould not have read it through for five hundred 
pounds. It led him into Arianism. Take care that similar tracts (all 
of which I abhor) have not the same effect upon you." Dr. Watts's mis- 
chievous book engaged Mr. Watson's anxious attention ; and if it pro- 
duced so injurious an effect upon the mind of Mr. Wesley, when he was 
advanced in life, and his correct judgment was matured, its influence 
upon the thinkings of a youth like Mr. Watson could not have been 
altogether salutary ; especially as he had not yet learned accurately to 
discriminate between the distinct provinces of revelation and philosophy. 
We have, however, the most decisive testimony that he never renounced 
" the faith which was once delivered to the saints." 

At this period Mr. Watson had acquired considerable readiness in 
argumentation ; and as he was familiar with the different forms which 
error had assumed in the Church, and the reasons by which they were 
supported, he took delight in exercising his dialectical skill among his 
friends. Sometimes, for the sake of argument, and to elicit the views 
of others, he appeared as the apologist of heterodox opinions, in the 
presence of persons who were unable to perceive his motives, and 
incapable of justly appreciating his character. Such a practice may 
succeed in the schools ; but it is a dangerous habit, and should never 
be resorted to in the presence of " weak brethren." By indulging this 
propensity Mr. Watson fell under the suspicion of heresy. It was 
affirmed that he was an Arian, and denied original sin, and the proper 
Godhead and atonement of Christ. 

Had this allegation been true, attempts should have been made to 
convince him of his errors, and to reclaim him from those doctrinal 
aberrations which would have utterly disqualified him for the duties of 
a Methodist preacher. If reasoning and remonstrance had been una- 
vailing, the discipline of the body should have been brought to bear 
upon his case. A district meeting should have been summoned, to 
investigate the affair ; and had he been found corrupt in doctrine, and 
at the same time incorrigible, a sentence of suspension till the ensuing 
conference should have been pronounced. By this just and constitu- 
tional process, the accused Avould have been allowed to answer for 
himself; and the congregations would have been guarded against an 
alleged liability to dangerous and destructive error. It is a strong 
presumption of Mr. Watson's innocence, that no step of this kind was 
taken ; doubtless from a conviction, that the charge could not be sub- 
stantiated. The course pursued in reference to him was highly cen- 
surable and injurious, and deeply revolting to an upright and honourable 
mind. The report of his alleged heterodoxy was circulated in his 


absence ; but no means were employed to bring him into the way of 
truth, from which he was said to have departed. Whether this treat- 
ment of Mr. Watson originated in any malignant feeling toward him, 
or was merely the result of weakness, must be left to the decision of 
that " day which will try every man's work, of what sort it is." Un- 
apprehensive of what was going on against him, he proceeded in his 
work, till the terrible fact was disclosed to him in a manner which his 
spirit was not able to brook. When he went to one of the villages to 
preach, the house where he had been cordially entertained was closed 
against him ; he was refused permission to address the congregation ; 
and was denied even a night's lodging where he had often been received 
" as an angel of God." Had he fallen into the errors imputed to him, 
and made it his business to propagate them, this would have been per- 
fectly proper ; for Christians ought not to " receive into their houses" 
the men who impugn the essential verities of Christianity, nor to " bid 
them God speed ;" but Mr. Watson was guiltless in this matter. The 
astounding repulse which he met with in this village was more than he 
could bear ; and he immediately withdrew from his work as an itine- 
rant preacher. 

That he did not take this step because he was dissatisfied with either 
the doctrine or discipline of the Methodist connection, as some persons 
have supposed, but on account of the circumstances just related, we 
have the most indubitable evidence. We have the testimony of his 
friends, who enjoyed his confidence ; and we have his own solemn and 
oft-repeated declaration. Speaking of this period of Mr. Watson's life, 
Mr. Edmondson says, " I will state the case in a few words, and in the 
fear of God. Mr. Watson had carefully examined the doctrine of the 
holy trinity, before his appointment to the Hinckley circuit ; and after 
meeting many perplexing difficulties in the course of his inquiries, he 
adopted the Nicene creed, as the best exposition of that profound 
mystery ; and he afterward defended that view of the subject in his 
celebrated work on the Sonship of Christ. But some of our people 
supposed, perhaps from some unguarded expressions in private conver- 
sation, that he was an Arian. But it is certain this was entirely mis- 
conception or misrepresentation. 

" I was involved in the same condemnation ; and was interrogated on 
these subjects, with a threat that my opinions should be stated to the 
conference ; and yet no man living had ever heard me, either in public 
or private, deny those Scriptural verities. I had carefully studied what 
is now called the Sonship of Christ, many years before it was debated 
in our connection, and had taken that sound view of it which was clearly 
taught by the venerable Wesley, both in his Hymns, and in his Notes 
on the New Testament. I may say, I had been perplexed, like many 
others, in studying the doctrine of the trinity ; that I had made inquiries 
of the preachers, which had excited suspicion ; but that I never fell 
into the fatal snares either of Socinianism or Arianism. 

" When I heard the report that Mr. Watson was an Arian, and that 
he had said I was of the same mind, I went to see him at Castle 
Donington, and asked him if he had ever uttered such a sentiment. — 
He said, in reply, that it was, like some other things in his own 
case, all misapprehension and misrepresentation. He then wrote as 
follows : — 


' I am not myself an Arian, nor ever professed myself to be one ; 
and, as I am convinced that Mr. Edmondson no more holds such opi- 
nions than myself, I never could say that Mr. E. disbelieved either the 
Divinity of Christ, or original sin. I believe that what I said respect- 
ing Mr. Edmondson's opinions related entirely to the revival, so called, 
and some peculiar opinions advanced by the advocates of it* 

1 July 15th, 1801. Richard Watson.' 

" This paper I have carefully preserved, both as a defence of myself 
and of the friend who wrote it. 

" Mr. Watson did not leave us on account of any change in his views, 
either of our doctrine or discipline ; nor was any charge ever preferred 
against him, as to his religious and moral conduct, even by those who 
suspected his orthodoxy ; but he was grieved at a wilful misrepresenta- 
tion of his opinions ; and without the least view of joining any other 
religious denomination, he went into business with a respectable local 
preacher at Hinckley ; but he soon gave it up, and went to live at 
Castle-Donington, where he married Miss Henshaw, a young lady of 
genuine piety, and of suitable accomplishments. But, even there he 
was not kindly treated, though no one could prove any charge against 

Mr. Burdsall, with whom Mr. Watson spent the first year of his 
itinerancy, and with whom he carried on a free correspondence on 
doctrinal subjects to the time of his secession from the Methodist body, 
fully confirms the statement of Mr. Edmondson, as to the uprightness 
and orthodoxy of their common friend. " Never would he have left 
our connection," says Mr. Burdsall, " but for the usage of two or three 
of his brethren, who had neither the mind nor the generosity that were 
requisite in order to the right treatment of this active and inquiring 
young man. At that time we were busily occupied in reading Watts 
and others on the indwelling scheme, and on some other difficult sub- 
jects ; and we were sometimes puzzled and perplexed ; but that we 
were ever heterodox, I utterly and indignantly deny. Could I have 
found one or two letters that he wrote to me about the third and fourth 
years of his itinerancy, communicating some of his thoughts and criti- 
cisms on the theory of Dr. Watts, they would have reflected great credit 
both on his mind and heart ; but those letters, I fear, are irrecoverably 
lost. We lodged together at the conference of 1800, when he Was 
admitted into full connection ; and we afterward held a correspondence 
by letter until he retired from his public work ; and during all that 
time, I do aver that he was sound in the faith, and well affected to what 
was right." 

In full accordance with these testimonies is the express declaration 
of Mr. Watson, which he has often repeated in the company of his 
friends. The writer of this narrative has heard him, on innumerable 
occasions, avow the fact, that he withdrew from the itinerant ministry 
solely on account of the personal treatment which he met with, and not 
because of any alteration of his views respecting either the doctrine or 
the discipline of the Methodist body. And indeed, not many days 

* This document, in which Mr. Watson positively disclaims the tenets that had 
been charged upon him, was written a few weeks af\er he had retired from his 
circuit and itinerant work. 


before his lamented death, when all hope of recovery had been aban- 
doned, thinking that perhaps an attack might be made upon his repu- 
tation after his decease, by an unprincipled and licentious press, or 
by some persons to whom he had rendered himself obnoxious, in con- 
sequence of the principles which he had professed and defended as a 
public man, he repeated this avowal to his son-in-law, the Rev. James 
Dixon ; that, in the event of the revival of the old calumny upon his 
orthodoxy, the means of refutation might be at hand. At the same 
time he explained the particulars of that unhappy case ; and said to 
Mr. Dixon, " I leave my character in your hands." 

While it is contended that Mr. Watson was treated with flagrant in- 
justice when stationed in the Hinckley circuit, it is not pretended that 
he acted either a wise or a blameless part in the course which he 
adopted under the injuries which were inflicted upon him. It appears, 
indeed, to have been impossible that he should continue his public 
labours, either on that or any other station, with the hope of comfort and 
success, under the imputations which were then cast upon him ; but he 
does not seem to have used the requisite means to justify himself. 
His friends in the circuit, at least, were led inadvertently into the sin 
of unjust prejudice, and evil speaking ; and a frank and explicit disa- 
avowal on his part of the dangerous errors which he was said to hold, 
would doubtless have satisfied them. But his spirit was high and un- 
bending. He felt that he possessed powers and knowledge greater 
than those of which his principal accusers could boast ; — for he had 
confounded them in conversation on many occasions ; — and he would 
not stoop to defend himself against their unjust aspersions. Instead 
of obeying the apostolic injunction, " Let not your good be evil spoken 
of," he despised the popular clamour which was raised against him. 
Deeply did he afterward repent of this unadvised step ; and when he 
referred to it in the latter years of his life, so perfectly had he forgiven 
the men who laid this stumbling block in his way, that he never 
spoke of them in terms of unkindness ; but attributed the troubles which 
were consequent upon the resignation of his ministry to the loftiness 
of his own mind, and a spirit of independence which was impatient 
of control. 

Mr. Watson is greatly to be commended for making no attempts to 
raise a party, and to promote strife and division in the societies, where 
he might doubtless have obtained partisans, had he used any efforts 
to procure them ; but on no account ought he to have given up his 
ministry. By doing this he put it out of the power of his friends 
effectually to defend his reputation ; and, in consequence of this, very 
unjust suspicions with regard to his orthodoxy were attached to his name 
for several years. Many persons, who greatly admired his talents and 
general character, and regarded him as one of the most extraordinary 
men of the age, for a long time had serious doubts whether he was, in 
all respects, incorrupt in doctrine. These doubts, indeed, rested upon 
no good foundation ; but they were naturally enough excited by the 
circumstance, that under a charge of heterodoxy, he had voluntarily 
retired from the Methodist connection. 

But an evil of still greater magnitude was connected with Mr. Wat- 
son's retirement. By this act he was disobedient to that Divine call 
to the pastoral office which he had unquestionably received ; and, like 

Vol. I. 4 


another Jonah, " fled from the presence of the Lord." It is the ungodly 
remark of a Scottish professor, addressed to students, that, although the 
Christian ministry may be " deemed gloomy and unpromising,'^ yet it 
is not to be despised, inasmuch as " the great leisure it affords, if con- 
verted to purposes of literature, may be rendered subservient both to 
fame and fortune." (Barron's Lectures on Belles Lettres and Logic, vol. i, 
p. 593.) Widely different from this were the views of the venerable 
founders of the English Church ; who attach so much importance and 
sanctity to the sacred office, as to assume that all the true ministers 
of Christ are specially called by him to labour in the word and doctrine, 
and to take the charge of his people. To each of her candidates for 
the ministry, therefore, the momentous question is proposed, " Do you 
trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you this 
office and ministration, to serve God for the promoting of his glory, and 
the edifying of his people ?" Mr. Wesley, and the religious connection 
established by him, have always regarded this Divine call as essential 
to the ministerial character ; and hence the inquiry which forms a part 
of their permanent discipline, " How shall we try those who think 
they are moved by the Holy Ghost to preach ?" This is a principle 
of great practical importance. A minister who enters upon his work, 
not only under the influence of pure motives, but under the full convic- 
tion of a call from God, has the most perfect encouragement to expect 
Divine help, and at least some degree of success ; while he who has 
no such conviction, but has reason to fear that he has run before he 
was sent, is constantly liable to the paralyzing apprehension that he has 
no right to expect the blessing of God upon his labours, and therefore 
can only " spend his strength for nought." Having received this Divine 
call, the minister of Christ is not at liberty to leave his work at his 
own option, under any circumstances of discouragement whatever. 
His Master has appointed him his sphere of labour ; and his Master 
only can dismiss him from the allotted service. " Through evil 
report, and through good report," " in perils among false brethren," and 
under trials which unassisted human nature can never sustain, he is to 
remember that " a dispensation of the Gospel is committed to him" by 
its Author ; and that a " wo" is denounced against him if he " preach 
it not." A man who takes up the Christian ministry merely as a pro- 
fession, or in reference to the acquisition of " fame and fortune," of 
course may lay it down whenever he finds its duties irksome and in- 
convenient ; but he " whom his Lord hath made ruler over his house- 
hold, to give them their portion of" evangelical " meat in due season," 
is to remain in that office " till his Lord shall come ;" even though his 
" fellow servants should smite him" in the tenderest part, — his honour 
and reputation. 

It would be difficult to mention any ordinary minister, either in an- 
cient or in modern times, who had more satisfactory and decisive 
proofs of a Divine call to preach the Gospel than Mr. Watson. He 
was in very early life made a subject of deep piety ; and he possessed 
the requisite gifts, — powers of elocution, judgment, memory, imagina- 
tion, far above the common order. Providence had wonderfully pre- 
pared his way. His master gave him his liberty under circumstances 
almost unexampled ; fields of labour were unexpectedly opened before 
him, and invited his cultivation ; he had received, in a most unequivo- 


cal manner, the official sanction of that branch of the universal Church 
to which he belonged ; he began to preach under a deep and impres- 
sive sense of duty, and under the constraining power of the love of 
Christ ; and the blessing of God had so far attended his ministrations, 
as to render them successful in the conversion of many souls from the 
error of their way. In the different circuits where he had laboured, 
he might have pointed to a goodly number of holy and happy Chris- 
tians, once the slaves of error, vice, and sin, and might have said to 
those who questioned his credentials, " The seal of mine apostleship 
are these in the Lord." 

Under these circumstances he could not voluntarily resign his 
ministry, and be guiltless in the sight of God. Nor was such a step 
at all necessary. No charge whatever was officially preferred against 
him ; it was not pretended that he had ever preached erroneous doc- 
trine ; nor was any intimation given to him, that it was intended to 
accuse him at the approaching district meeting, either on account of his 
tenets, his attention to the Methodist discipline, or his moral con- 
duct. The discipline of the body would have afforded him effectual 
protection ; and the candour, the justice, the love of his brethren, had 
an appeal been made to them, would have put that discipline in force. 
Had he only beckoned to them in his distress, they would have rallied 
round him, and have " brought forth his righteousness as the noonday." 
In this case, his valuable labours would have been saved to the con- 
nection ; and he would have been mercifully preserved from placing 
himself in circumstances which often wrung his heart with anguish. 
Here was his capital error. His mind, conscious of its integrity, was 
wounded beyond endurance ; and partly through inexperience, and 
partly through temptation and resentment, he took the matter into his 
own hands ; and the affecting record stands in the Minutes of Conference 
for the year 1801, " Richard Watson has desisted from travelling by 
his own choice." In reference to this period of his life he has been 
often heard to say, " I only regret that I did not lay my case before 
my brethren, and leave myself in their hands :" a sentiment which he 
repeated, with considerable emotion, within a few days of his death, 
when his anxious attention was directed to his past life, and to its 
consequences in that world upon which he was just about to enter. 

On his retirement from the itinerant ministry among the Methodists, 
Mr. Watson did not connect himself with any other body of professing 
Christians. His views of evangelical truth, and his personal predilec- 
tions, all served to attach him to his old friends, whose religious as- 
semblies he still frequented, and whose pulpits he occasionally occu- 
pied. Among them he had received his religious impressions ; in 
happy intercourse with them he had spent the entire period of his 
Christian life ; and his heart and judgment still clave to them as the 
objects of his affection and confidence. That he might have been re- 
stored to his place in the body, had the requisite means been employ- 
ed, there can be no doubt. Unhappily, no generous attempt appears 
to have been made to meet his lingering attachment to the connection. 
Those who knew him best were at a distance, and were probably im- 
perfectly acquainted with the situation in which he was placed ; the 
fault which he had hastily committed in forsaking his work appears to 
have rendered inexorable the friends by whom he was immediately 


surrounded ; and, in some instances, he met with open and marked 
disrespect. In the meanwhile, his mind was far from being at rest ; 
he felt that he had left the path of duty ; he saw that it would be diffi- 
cult, if not impossible, to retrace his steps ; his spiritual enjoyments 
were in a great measure lost ; and, although his moral conduct was 
unimpeachable, as a man of God he was shorn of his strength. Direct 
religious intercourse with his Christian friends was at length discon- 
tinued ; and even his attendance upon public worship for a few months 
was irregular. He laboured with most exemplary diligence to esta- 
blish himself in business, as a means of honest subsistence ; but nothing 
prospered in his hands. All his powers of ingenuity were put in. re- 
quisition ; but he was baffled at every point ; for a merciful Providence 
designed him for a higher service than that which he had chosen ; and 
would not suffer him to bury his fine talents in secular cares. The 
subject is too serious in itself, and was connected with too many dis- 
tressing feelings in the mind of Mr. Watson, or it might provoke a 
smile to see a man possessed of mental abilities which would ultimately 
enable him to soar with Milton to the heaven of heavens, and to ac- 
company such men as Butler and Locke in their most profound and 
original thinkings, — a man whose powers as a theologian and a 
preacher have been rarely equalled, — assuming the character of an 
ordinary tradesman in a small market town. So humbled are the 
noblest minds, when they cease to act under the Divine authority and 
direction ! At this period Mr. Watson was happy in his marriage, but 
in nothing else ; and on some occasions the upbraidings of his con- 
science, because he had laid aside the ministry, to which ho had been 
called and solemnly set apart, were overwhelming. Once, in particu- 
lar, when travelling alone, on one of his journeys of business, his feel- 
ings of regret and compunction rose to agony ; and he expressed his 
persuasion that the misery of a lost soul could scarcely be more intense 
than that which he experienced. 

In this state his first concern was to regain his spirituality of mind. 
His late father-in-law, Mr. Henshaw, was a zealous local preacher in 
the Methodist new connection ; and with a reference to his own per- 
sonal salvation, Mr. Watson was induced to unite himself to a small 
society belonging to that religious community, at Hemmington, an 
agricultural village, about a mile from Castle-Donington. His conduct 
from this time excites a high opinion of his simplicity and godly sin- 
cerity. The leader of the class was a farmer's labourer, of plain man- 
ners, and humble capacity ; and the other members were mostly of 
the same rank in society. The class met on the evening of a week- 
day ; and, notwithstanding the distance, his attendance was punctual 
and regular. Scarcely ever was he known to be absent ; and he was 
generally the first in attendance, and often unlocked the door and 
opened the shutters of the little chapel, where they were accustomed 
to assemble, and get every thing in readiness for the meeting. It was 
observed by those who met in the same class, that his religious im- 
provement was very rapid. His piety soon regained its wonted ardour 
and stability ; and it was not long before he was requested to officiate 
as a local preacher among his new friends. With this request he rea- 
dily complied ; no compromise of principle being required ; as the 
Methodist new connection hold precisely the theological tenets enter- 


tained by the Wesleyan body. His preaching was generally approved ; 
he was introduced to persons of respectability and influence in the com- 
munity with which he was now united ; and it was proposed to him to 
become an itinerant preacher among them. To this he promptly ac- 
ceded ; and it is impossible for language to express the joyous feelings 
with which he resumed the labours of the regular ministry after this 
painful interval. He was requested, in the first instance, to go to the 
Manchester circuit to supply the place of another preacher ; and on 
receiving this appointment, with a light step and a bounding heart he 
hastened to the sphere of his labours. Scarcely could he have shown 
more alacrity, had he been for years an imprisoned exile, who had just 
regained his liberty, and was returning to his kindred and his home. 
The exercise of his ministry was the grand object to which his mind 
was now directed. With the principles and details of Church govern- 
ment his acquaintance was very limited ; as he had never seriously 
turned his attention to the subject, nor felt any interest in it. He saw 
nothing in the discipline of the new connection to hinder him from be- 
coming a minister in that community -, especially as the financial regu- 
lations adopted in the Wesleyan body, affecting him as a married man 
with two children, and other causes, seemed to preclude all hope of 
re-admission in that quarter ; otherwise there is every reason to believe 
that he would have preferred a union with his old friends. It is a high 
and permanent honour to the Methodist new connection to have been a 
means of rescuing from obscurity and sorrow this great and excellent 
man ; and that it afforded him an opportunity of cultivating those talents 
by which multitudes of mankind have been so greatly instructed and 
edified, and which are likely to promote the interests of generations 
yet unborn. Had it not been for that connection, according to all hu- 
man probability, he must have sunk under an overwhelming load of 
distress and unmerited obloquy. 

On his admission into the new connection, Mr. Watson gave the 
most perfect satisfaction, as to the correctness of his doctrinal views, 
after a very strict examination, with reference to his alleged hetero- 
doxy ; but on the subject of Church government, concerning which he 
knew and cared little, no questions whatever were proposed to him. 
He arrived in Manchester in the autumn of 1803 ; and it was arranged 
that he should reside at Stockport. As he left the Hinckley circuit in the 
spring of 1801, he was more than two years and a half unemployed in 
the regular duties of the ministry : a period of his life during which he 
was taught many important lessons, but upon which he could never 
look with pleasurable emotions. He had maintained a high reputation 
before the world, for uprightness and integrity ; but it was a blank in, 
his history as a minister of Christ, who had nothing to do but to save 
souls. The entire case is highly monitory. It is calculated to teach 
young ministers caution and self diffidence ; and their seniors, who are 
over them in the Lord, to watch over them with fidelity and kindness. 
Had the Methodist connection made provision for his theological train- 
ing, before he was sent into a circuit as an itinerant preacher, it was 
Mr. Watson's full conviction that he should have escaped the evils into 
which he fell ; and that his personal comfort and public usefulness 
would have suffered no interruption. In the latter years of his life his 
heart yearned over the young ministers who are appointed to study 
and preach without an instructer and a guide. 



Mr. Watson's Satire upon the immoderate Use of Instrumental Music in Publio 
Worship— Approval ofthe Discipline of the New Connection— Memoirs ofWilham 
Bradbury and John Cash— Sermon on Religious Meditation— Sermon on Sunday 
Schools— Letter to Mr. Edmondson— Zeal and Labours— Appointed to the Liver- 
pool Circuit— Letters to the Messrs. Faulkner— Verses on Charity— Admitted 
into full Connection with the Conference— Writes the Annual Address to the 
Societies— Appointed to Liverpool— Writes a History of that Town, and ofthe 
Reign of George III.— Jeu.d'esprit— Commences the Liverpool Courier— Letter 
to Mr. John Faulkner— Writes the Address to the Societies in 1808— Returned 
a third Year to Liverpool— Nature of his Preaching— Publishes an Answer to 
Mr. Roscoe. 

At Stockport Mr. Watson was not only respected by his own peo- 
ple, but also lived on terms of intimacy with some of the Methodists 
of the Wesleyan connection. They admired his spirit, abilities, and 
knowledge, and were highly gratified with his frequent visits. During 
his stay in that town, the Wesleyan Society there was agitated by a 
dispute respecting the use of inatrumental music in the public worship 
of God ; and Mr. Watson was induced to write a satire upon the most 
distinguished of the parties, which was printed and put into circulation. 
Some of the rebukes contained in this small and ephemeral publica- 
tion were duly merited;. others are totally inapplicable, being founded 
in mistake, occasioned, doubtless, by misinformation. This is the 
case especially in what is said concerning the decision of the confer- 
ence in regard to the contending parties. It is also just to say, that, 
as the writer belonged to another community, and was not immediately 
interested in the questions at issue, it would have been more seemly 
if he had forborne to interfere. The tract was smart and clever, 
and afforded amusement to witty people, at the expense of an erring 
individual, and of the parties by whom he was sanctioned and sup- 
ported; and the design of it was praiseworthy. It was intended to 
expose an evil of very serious magnitude, — the immoderate use of 
instrumental music in public worship ; yet its moral effect was not 
good, in consequence of the nature of the composition. The style was 
an imitation of the historical books of the Old Testament ; and there- 
fore presented an example of that levity which connects sacred things 
with ridicule ; the practice of which is equally condemned by Christian 
piety and good taste. In the subsequent years of his life, Mr. Watson 
had a deep conviction of the evil of such sallies of perverted ingenuity ; 
and no man was more free from all approaches to them, both in his 
writings and conversation. 

When Mr. Watson had become a regular preacher in the Methodist, 
new connection, his general approval of the discipline and order of 
that body might be expected to follow as a matter of course. He had 
entered it with a special reference to the exercise of his ministry, and 
because its theological creed was in full accordance with his own ; but 
as an honest man he was also bound to conform to its usages himself, 
and to enforce the same conformity on others. It is no just reflection 
upon him to say, that, immediately after his official connection with 
that body, and as a natural consequence of his daily intercourse with 
its ministers and private members, he was led to entertain their views, 
even before he had deeply studied the principles of Church govern- 


ment, or had witnessed, upon an extensive scale, the practical workings 
of that system which he had adopted. 

On his restoration to the full duties of the Christian ministry, his 
mind was in a great measure at rest ; and he soon recovered his wonted 
cheerfulness and buoyancy. He applied himself to study with a dili- 
gence and an ardour almost peculiar to himself; and his "profiting 
appeared unto all." His habits were sociable ; his conversation was 
lively, instructive, and greatly admired; and his preaching often dis- 
played an energy and a vigour, both of thought and expression, which 
gave strong indications of future eminence. Among other means of 
usefulness, he sometimes practised himself in literary composition, 
with a reference to publication ; and his name occasionally ap- 
peared in the Magazine of the Methodist new connection, as a con- 
tributor to that work. His first communication was a memoir of Mr. 
William Bradbury, of Manchester ; and the second, an account of John 
Cash, of Warford, in Cheshire ; both of which were published in the 
year 1805, and are written with considerable elegance and spirit. The 
subjects of these biographical sketches had both belonged to the Wes- 
leyan body, in union with which they had obtained " the faith of God's 
elect." They had separated from their religious friends in the division 
of 1798; and, of course, it became their biographer, not only to relate 
that fact, but also the motives by which they were actuated. These 
motives are stated in a cursory manner, but yet so as to imply a cen- 
sure upon the discipline of the Wesleyan connection. This was 
unavoidable ; and supposing Mr. Watson to have concurred in that 
censure, no candid person would attach to him any serious blame, 
considering the peculiarity of his situation. With him the compara- 
tive merit of the two systems of Church government must, at that 
time, have been merely a matter of opinion ; and that opinion could only 
be formed on very limited knowledge and observation, and under cir- 
cumstances strongly calculated to bias the judgment. But the fact is, 
he had no personal acquaintance with either Mr. Bradbury, or John 
Cash, in the year 1798; and the history of their secession from the 
Wesleyan body was supplied by their respective friends ; Mr. Watson's 
only task being that of preparing for publication the documents which 
were put into his hands. His design was not so much to state his own 
opinions, as those of the men concerning whom he was writing. This 
is his own account of the affair, as will appear from a letter in a subse- 
quent part of these memoirs, written by him when he was accused of 
abandoning his former principles after his return to the connection in 
which he was originally nurtured, and in which he spent the happiest 
and most useful part of his life. 

The following introduction to the memoir of Mr. Bradbury is worth 
quoting for the justness of the sentiment it contains, and the eloquence 
with which it is written : — " One of the most conclusive arguments in 
favour of Christianity may be drawn from its influence upon the cha- 
racter and conduct of those who cordially embrace its doctrines, and 
wholly submit themselves to its discipline. If it reclaims them from 
the practice of vice, if it subdues the unruly passions, if it implants 
virtuous and holy affections in the human breast, if it sweetens the 
tempers, and purges away the dregs of envy, malice, and self love, ren- 
dering a man not only pious toward God, but also kind and benevolent 


to his fellow men ; then it achieves a conquest which manifestly proves 
that it is attended with a Divine and supernatural energy ; inasmuch 
as the whole of human power and reason have frequently been exerted, 
for the attainment of the same objects, without effect. 

" Thanks be to God, that Christianity never was, nor is at present, 
destitute of this evidence. Time, which works mighty changes in 
things terrestrial, cannot change or destroy the influence of religion ; 
for, like its glorious Author, it is ' the same yesterday, to-day, and for 
ever.' If the first Christians could say, We have our conversation in 
the world in purity, in knowledge, in long suffering, in gentleness, in 
the Holy Spirit, in the word of truth, in the power of God, with the 
armour of righteousness on the right hand, and on the left ; we trust that 
it is not impossible for us to select a number of living characters, of 
whom the same things might justly be affirmed. Bad as society is, 
there is not so great a paucity of moral virtue, but that in the circle of 
our knowledge we can point out one and another who do honour to the 
Christian profession, and by example, as well as precept, recommend 
their religion to the notice of mankind. 

" Some of those worthies Ave have the happiness to number among 
our present acquaintance and friends ; and our recollection will furnish 
us with others, in whose friendship we once shared, whose knowledge 
instructed us, and whose example fired us with holy emulation. — ■ 
They are now with God ; they have left us for a season ; but their 
memories are still precious to us, and their virtues are engraven upon 
our hearts." 

That Mr. Watson still considered the ministerial office, with its pecu- 
liar responsibilities and duties, as a standing ordinance in the Church 
of God, and not to be modified and contemned by the caprice of unruly 
men, is manifest from the following remarks respecting John Cash, 
and the system of ecclesiastical discipline Avhich he had adopted : — • 
" Warmly as he was attached to it, he did not consider it as designed 
to degrade the ministers of Christ from that authority and influence 
which the very nature of their office supposes, or as giving a license to 
captiousness, self will, and unsubmission to rule and order in the peo- 
ple. Every preacher that approved himself by his conduct to be sin- 
cere and upright, he venerated as a ' messenger of the Church, and the 
glory of Christ.'" 

In the year 1804 Mr. Watson's name appears in the Minutes of the 
new connection conference ; and he is stated to have travelled one 
year. In 1805 he was made assistant secretary to the conference : a 
mark of respect which was never shown by that body to any other 
preacher at so early a period of his itinerancy. 

The next production of Mr. Watson's pen was a sermon ; the first 
pulpit discourse that he ever prepared for publication. The subject 
was religious meditation ; and the text, " And Isaac went out to 
meditate in the field at the eventide," Gen. xxiv, 63. It was inserted in 
the Magazine of the Methodist new connection in an early part of the 
year 1806 ; and reflected great credit upon the abilities and piety of 
the writer. It will be found in the first volume of his sermons ; and 
is at once judicious, eloquent, and devout. While this discourse was 
passing through the press, Mr. Watson preached a sermon in Stock- 
port, in behalf of the Sunday school connected with the chapel in which 


he regularly ministered. The congregation was so impressed with the 
sentiments of this sermon as to request that it might be printed. He 
complied with their wishes ; and sent it forth into the world under the 
title of " a Sermon preached at Mount Tabor chapel, Stockport, March 
9, 1806 ; for the benefit of the Methodist Sunday school." It contains 
passages of considerable force and beauty ; and the whole presents 
strong indications of that philosophic cast of thought, and of those 
enlarged and comprehensive views, by which he was so distinguished 
in the subsequent years of his life. Considering the religious educa- 
tion of the poor as a work of patriotism, the preacher says, " We love 
our country. It is endeared to us by considerations the most important. 
It is endeared to us by its government. Property is respected ; life 
is sacred ; liberty is secured. It is endeared to us by its privileges. 
' The Lord hath not dealt so with any nation.' It is endeared to us 
by its religion. Its religion is Christian ; the religion of the cross ; 
the religion of love and charity It is endeared to us by the character 
of its inhabitants ; — mild, humane, friendly, and benevolent. Would to 
God we could also say, it is endeared to us by its morality. Here we 
must hesitate. We are a foolish people, and unwise, and have ill 
requited the Lord our God. 

" To what, then, ought patriotism to be directed ? It has secured our 
civil rights ; it has organized our armies ; it has rendered our navy 
invincible ; it has extended our commerce, and enlarged our dominions ; 
but there is yet one object to be accomplished, without which well- 
appointed armies, an invincible navy, extended commerce, and enlarged 
dominion, will add little to our dignity, our happiness, or our real 
strength ; — I mean, the correction of our morals. Immorality and 
irreligion as certainly dry up the resources of a natioi, and hasten its 
downfall, as a worm at the root of the finest plant will cause it to fade, 
to wither, and to die. Wickedness arms God against us ; and if he 
' speak concerning a nation, to pluck up and to destroy,' no counsels, 
however wise, no plans, however judicious, no exertions, however 
vigorous, can avert the sentence. ' Righteousness exdteth a nation ;' 
and every endeavour to promote it is patriotic. In this view the 
preaching of the Gospel is patriotic ; the execution of he laws against 
vice and immorality is patriotic ; the support of Sunday schools 
is patriotic. From the latter, much may be expected toward national 
reformation. Their good effects are already obvious ; and when they 
shall have become more general, these will become more striking. 
Here, then, is a work worthy of your patriotism. Has.en to counter- 
act vice by the inculcation of virtue ; to prevent the destructive effects 
of ignorance by instruction ; to purify society by purging the elementary 
parts of which it is to be composed from corrupting principles and vicious 
propensities. These exertions, it is true, will not bring down upon 
you the smile of monarchs, because they will not notice ;hem ; but they 
will insure the approbation of God. This work will not excite the 
plaudits of the populace ; but ' the blessings of them who are ready to 
perish will come upon you.' Your endeavours will not strike by their 
splendour, and raise hope by the boldness of enterprise ; yet they will 
not be less effectual ; but like the secret, silent influences of the spring, 
they will penetrate and vivify society ; it will bud and blossom, and 
fill the whole land with fruit." 


About this time Mr. Watson addressed a letter to Mr. Edmondson, 
with whom he had been so happily and advantageously associated in 
the Leicester circuit some years before. It exhibits, in a striking 
light, the feelings with which he contemplated his former attachments, 
and proves that his generous affection for his old friends had not been 
extinguished by the new connections into which he had been so unex- 
pectedly thrown. The following is an extract : — 

" While I write this, the remembrance of our former friendship rushes 
into my mind. But the social intercourse, the friendly interchange of 
thought, the joint pursuit of truth, are no more ! In the midst of many 
changes, under the pressure of many bereavements, what has most 
affected me is the loss of my friends. Have I deserved it ? I have 
often said to myself, ' It is true, I have been surrounded with the mists 
of calumny and detraction ; my conduct, my principles, my intentions 
have been scrupulously examined ; — no : they have been presumed 

upon, and ; but this is my consolation, that, though many of my 

friends looking at me through a factitious medium, saw me distorted 
and preposterous, I have not sacrificed one generous thought at the 
shrine of resentment ; and it gives me the highest pleasure, that there 
is a time approaching when, in a state more congenial to the happiness 
of man, the operations of benevolence will be unobstructed by the mis- 
apprehensions which mark the imbecility, as they increase the misery 
of the present.' " 

At this period Mr. Watson laboured as a minister of Christ with great 
fidelity and zeal ; and was much respected for his personal virtues and 
piety, and for his admirable ministry. Though his health was never 
vigorous, and occasionally very delicate, like his Divine Master, he 
often preached in the open air, particularly at Stockport, seeking in 
order that he might save the lost. Several persons attended his 
preaching, who refused to unite in Church fellowship with any denomi- 
nation of Christians ; and with a special reference to their case, he 
preached three sermons in succession at Stockport, on the duty and 
advantages of Christian communion. In Manchester he was greatly 
beloved, and famed some cordial and permanent friendships, particu- 
larly with Mr. Foulds and the Messrs. Faulkners, dentists, father and 
son ; and with Mr. Absalom Watkin ; with whom, for many years, he 
carried on an improving and affectionate correspondence by letter. 

In the spring of the year 1806, he removed from the Manchester 
circuit to Liverpool, where he was stationed alone. Here he was placed 
in a situation highly favourable to that mental cultivation upon which 
his heart was set. His pastoral duties were very limited. He had 
regularly to supply one small chapel in the town ; and this was nearly 
the whole of ;he official duty that devolved upon him ; for with this 
chapel scarcely any circuit was connected. A large proportion of his time 
was therefore at his own disposal ; and how well he improved it his 
ministry and writings, during the remainder of his life, amply demon- 
strate. This was a very important era in Mr. Watson's life, and his 
residence in Liverpool greatly tended to the formation of his character 
as a public man. Here some of his most valued and lasting friendships 
were formed; he had access to literary and scientific Institutions ; 
books on all subjects were within his reach ; and he had frequent in- 
tercourse with men of learning and intelligence. At the same time his 


preaching excited considerable attention ; and Christians of various 
denominations, particularly the Wesleyan Methodists, both preachers 
and private individuals, were often found assembled round his pulpit, 
listening with deep emotion to a ministry equally original, evangelical, 
and impressive. 

The following letters were written during the first year of his 
residence in Liverpool. They illustrate his personal history, and show 
that his correspondence was at once affectionate and instructive. It 
appears from the first of the series, that before his appointment to 
Liverpool he spent about a month in that town, taking Wigan on his 
way, where he stayed a Sabbath. Mr. John Faulkner, at that time, 
was a lively young man, well disposed, but not decidedly pious ; and 
hence the peculiarity of Mr. Watson's manner of address to him. It 
will be observed, that he recommends to him true religion under the 
name of " virtue ;" and attempts to draw his attention to subjects of in- 
finite importance by means of topics somewhat light and amusing. 

To Mr. Faulkner, Jun., of Manchester. 

Liverpool, April 24th, 1806. 
Dear Sir, — I received yours, and, according to your request, proceed 
to give you an account of my journey. After the boat was out of sight of 
Manchester I mounted upon deck, for the purpose of reconnoitering the 
country, which I had never passed through before. Some pretty land- 
scapes occasionally break upon the view, which in summer must be 
considerably enriched by the verdure of the fields, and the foliage of 
the trees. Trafford Moss is an object of interest. A great part of it 
appears now to be converted into arable land ; and the remainder must 
soon yield the ruggedness and sterility of nature to the dispositions of 
art, and the cultivation of industry. The aqueduct, over which the 
canal passes at Barton, ranks, I believe, among the first constructed in 
the kingdom ; but ceases now to be an object of much curiosity or ad- 
miration, because we are become familiar with more stupendous works 
of a similar description. It serves, however, to awaken our admiration 
of the power of that puny creature, man. His individual physical 
strength is inferior, we will not say to the elephant or the camel, but 
even to that of an ass ; and yet he rears fabrics which a lapse of ages is 
required to undermine and destroy. Wisdom, you see, is better than 
strength ; or, rather, wisdom is the strength of man. In feasting my 
eyes with prospects, and my mind with reflections, upon deck, exposed 
to a strong and piercing wind, I took a severe cold, which might have 
been prevented had I cabined myself with the lady you might observe. 
Thus, you see, the star gazer falls frequently into the ditch. Arriving 
at Worsley, I and two young men, passengers, with whom I had not 
exchanged a word by the way, entered equally silent into an inn, where 
we called for our separate portions of the edible and potable, and, 
Englishmen-like, munched our morsel in forbidding silence. I had, 
however, my reflections, which I found more convenient to indulge in 
by the fireside, over a comfortable meal, than when exposed to the 
north-east wind. It was feeding the animal and the rational at once. 
Tired, however, both of eating and thinking, I sunk into a sort of ani- 
mal lassitude, and mental reverie, from which I was only roused by 
the thought that I had thirteen miles to walk, and that it was already 


P. M. I seized my quarter staff, sprung up, settled my bill, and sallied 
forth in quest of adventures. Mounting up a hill, on the edge of which 
the duke of Bridgewater has a house now apparently unoccupied, 
I was gratified with the extensive prospect which there presented 
itself: — A fine plain, intersected with enclosures, two canals, planta- 
tions bounded at the extremities by Manchester and Warrington. 
" What a noble plain," said I, " were it not for the canals and enclo- 
sures, for two armies to engage in !" I checked the barbarian excla- 
mation, and blessed the God of heaven that the soil was turned up by 
the plough of the peasant, and not by the. hoofs of warlike horses, and 
the wheels of destructive artillery ; that it was dug up by the agricultural 
and not the entrenching spade ; that it was watered by the dew of 
heaven, and not by the blood of men ; that it was a plain in Lancashire, 
and not in Poland.* No adventures of peculiar moment occuring to 
divert my attention, and the prospects losing their novelty, I became 
thoughtful and low spirited. I felt the loss of friends Avhom I had left. 
Had I been going directly home, it would have been an alleviation. I 
hailed the beams of Monday morning in a transport of joy. The boat to 
Liverpool affords a tedious passage of twelve hours. I was extremely 
ill of a violent pain in my stomach for four hours of the time. It, how- 
ever, took off the tedium of the conveyance, and made my journey 
appear so much shorter, that I was thankful for the visit. I am come 
to Liverpool, and the end of my paper. What a letter-full of trifles ! 
I had forgot my knee. It continues weak since my walk upon it ; but 
I appprehend no bad consequence. My warmest respects to the whole 
family. Adieu till conference, if we be spared. Peace, wisdom, and 
goodness attend you through life. 

Your very affectionate friend. 

P. S. I have not time to look over my errors. A fellow is waiting 
for me to tell him whether he should be baptized twice or once. 

To Mr. Thomas Faulkner, Dentist, Manchester. 

Liverpool, July 2d, 1806. 
Dear Sir, — By another revolution of the wheel of human vicissitude, 
I am found in Liverpool ; and as I am unwilling to believe that my 
friends are so perfectly uninterested as not to wish to know how as 
well as where I am, I have sat down to scribble four epistles for one 
post. The air of this place I found, for the first four or five days, to 
be extremely piercing. I was unwell ; and my hard-belaboured lungs 
" shot pangs, strange pangs ; and, as I thought, prophetic of their end." 
I thank God, however, that they proved to be of a more assimilating 
nature than I apprehended ; and the air and they appear to have enter- 
ed into a closer alliance, and more strict terms of friendship. I have 
bathed, and it has been beneficial ; I walk along the shore, and enjoy 
the double advantage of solitude and exercise, meditation and animal 
refreshment. Could I transplant my old friends to Liverpool, or the 
advantages of Liverpool to my old friends, I should think myself the 
happiest man on earth ; but " shall it be as thou wilt ?" Nature has 
not formed me in one of those rugged moulds, nor of those rigid mate- 
rials, which cannot relax and feel. I have felt most sensibly my sepa- 

*This letter, it will be observed, was written in the year 1806. 


ration from that little chosen band with whom I have spent so many- 
hours of improvement and pleasure. The remembrance is equally 
painful and pleasing ; and it is painful in proportion to the pleasure. I 
should think worse of myself if I did not feel, though I have felt more 
than I expected. There are many fibres which entwine themselves 
insensibly about the heart, and the existence of which we do not even 
suspect, till the whole is broken by entire separation, and every one 
bears its proportion of pain. But God will not condemn the softness 
of the heart ; the milder strokes of tender nature. He is love ; and he 
commands the heart that loves him to love the brethren too. 

My situation is in every respect comfortable ; and I doubt not will 
remain so. I thank God for an increasing attachment in my own mind 
to his religion and to his work. He is my God, and I will exalt him. 
Religion, my dear sir, is all. It is Heaven's greatest gift to man. 
Fairest, loveliest form in heaven, she has made her dwelling with man, 
and her delight is with the sons of men. All the fabled power of en- 
chantment belongs to her, and to her alone. She appears, and the 
desert blossoms as a rose ; the darkness of human nature vanishes ; 
every object is gilded with her light ; and the immensity beams with 
glory. She smiles, and the heart is eased of its load of wo, affliction, 
and sorrows. Her eye darts pity, and her accents breathe forgiveness. 
Wandering in error, she shows us the path of life. Perverse and 
obstinate in misery, her influence controls us. Wandering from hap- 
piness, in the ardent pursuit of deceitful pleasures, she opens a vista 
to the skies, and lets loose the powers of the soul among the objects 
of an immortal life. Celestial visitant, may we never forsake thee ! 
Whatever else we lose, may we possess thee ! To whatever separa- 
tions the changing scene of this present life painfully subjects us, may 
we ever be joined to thee, and become one spirit with thee ! 

I feel sincerely attached to every part of your family. May they all 
be taught of God ; and may your decline of life be cheered with the 
happy prospect of leaving them all in possession of that most invalu- 
able treasure, principles pure and evangelical, and a conduct regulated 
by just views of God, and faith in Jesus Christ ! 

Present my love to them all, as though mentioned by name ; and 
may God ever have them in his holy keeping. John may be assured 
I often think of him ; and when I think of him, it is with affection. — 
Present my affectionate remembrance to Miss Walker when you see 
her ; and inform her that I have not forgotten to pray for her ; and that 
my heart's desire and prayer to God is, that she may be saved. You 
will not forget my love to Mr. and Mrs. Smith. May they walk in all 
the statutes and commandments of the Lord blameless ! To hear from 
you, or to see any part of your family at Liverpool, will at any time be 
peculiarly pleasing to, dear sir, 

Yours very affectionately. 

P S. Our children are well; but Mrs. Watson continues poorly. 
Liverpool has not made any alteration for the better in her health. I 
hope that Mrs. Faulkner is better than when I left Manchester. May 
she, in every affliction, find access to the Man of sorrows, the sympa- 
thizing High Priest of his people. Respects to any who may inquire 
after me. 


To Mr. John Faulkner. 

Liverpool, Sept. 13th, 1806. 
My Dear Lad, — You desire me to write you a long letter. I will, 
though I should tire your patience. But I will not fill it with trifles, 
because I have too much attachment to you ; and because you have 
too much good sense to desire it. You are now in the most important 
stage of life. You occupy the anxieties, and inherit the warmest 
wishes, of your friends. Now is the time for you to acquire that know- 
ledge, to form those principles, to engrave that character upon your 
mind, which shall favour your entrance into life, and direct you with 
safety through it. To neglect in the morning of life those pursuits for 
which it is given, is to put off that which the space between noon and 
night may not be found sufficient to accomplish. It is, at least, to 
throw our greatest business into disorder, and to place the highest inte- 
rests, and the most important engagements, in a situation which can 
only, at the best, afford the probability of security and accomplishment. 
There are two objects to which your attention is imperatively called, — 
knowledge and virtue ; children of the same parent, inseparable com- 
panions, and mutual helpers of the happiness of man. The importance 
and value of the first I need not attempt to prove. " That the soul be 
without knowledge, it is not good," and that none but fools love folly, 
are positions of one of the wisest of men, which neither you nor I shall 
question. Knowledge is the food of the mind, the support of its vigour, 
and the parent of its growth. There is a capacity of improvement in 
the human intellect, of which the more we avail ourselves, the greater 
amplitude and greatness of soul we acquire ; the more we honour God 
by the improvement of his gifts ; the more real dignity we associate 
with our characters ; the more worthy we are of the appellations of 
rational and immortal ; and the better are we fitted for every useful 
purpose in life. The objects of human knowledge, however, being 
almost infinite, we must select those which our time and opportunity 
place within our reach ; taking care that whatever we fix upon, it shall 
be capable of affording us solid and useful information. Have you not 
seen with disgust a pert, two-legged animal, miscalled a man, on whom 
a decent education has been thrown away, or its effects been annihi- 
lated by a passion for novel reading 1 His imagination, heated by fic- 
tion, and, like a balloon filled with inflammable air, ascending the higher 
in proportion as the solidity of judgment is separated from it, he acts 
a contemptible and romantic part in common life ; he offends by his 
ceaseless loquacity ; he insults by his ignorance ; he becomes intole- 
rable, because he burlesques and caricatures human nature. Sensible 
conversation is to such a being insipid ; sober-minded men constitute 
a company irksome and repulsive ; he glitters, but does not shine ; he 
tattles, but does not talk ; his stage is the tea table, and his audience 
love-sick lasses. It is well, however, if he stops short of egregious 
vices ; if he learns not the vices of the heroes of novel and romance, 
and forgets their virtues ; if he has not learned to puzzle right and var- 
nish wrong ; to blaspheme his God, and to ridicule his laws ; to join 
hollowness to pretended friendship, and to debase love by sensuality. 
With the names of honour, friendship, and virtue on his lips, he is base, 
treacherous, and licentious. From reading of this kind, little is to be 


gained but sponginess of intellect, pertness of demeanor, and an unna- 
tural character. Is the real world so barren of incident, that we must 
create an ideal one to furnish it ? Is man as he is so barren a subject 
of speculation, that we must contemplate him as a faultless or faulty- 
monster that the world never saw 1 Are paintings after nature so scarce, 
or, rather, is it so difficult to find originals, that we must ever laugh at 
the daubing of a caricature 1 Are the calm, tranquil scenes of nature, or 
the steady, wise dispensations of Providence, so uninteresting, that the 
magic of romance must ever and anon conjure up exaggerated pictures 
of beauty or of horror, and the pen of invention be continually forging 
surprising events, and unexpected catastrophes 1 Are the common 
means of information, established by the appointed law of our nature, 
so defective, or has truth ceased to speak in the still small voice of 
reason, that we must learn nothing, never hear her charming voice, but 
in the whirlwind of the passions, the tempest of the soul ? It is a libel 
upon our Maker ; it is a satire upon humanity. 

Let us seek solid information in history, which makes us acquainted 
with our forefathers ; philosophy, which displays the wondrous works 
of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness ; geography, which is conver- 
sant with the abodes, habitudes, and relations of men ; astronomy, which 
carries us to distant worlds, and colonies from heaven; and above all 
in theology, which leads us even to the throne of God, and displays his 
glory, which presents us with a copy of his secret counsels, and the 
determinations of his wisdom respecting man, which unfolds the amaz- 
ing scene of human redemption, and enables us to behold the only 
begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; — explains the' causes 
of the misery we all feel, and promises the happiness we all wish ; — 
raises the degraded spirit from the servitude of vice, and restores it to 
honour, to dignity, to holiness ; — forms the purpose of return in the 
heart of the restless and unhappy fugitive, aids the execution, and with- 
draws not her influence till she hath placed us in the forgiving bosom 
of eternal Love, and in the unalienable fruition of life and immortality. 
This is knowledge, rational, exalting, beneficial, and immortal. 

The better part of my epistle must lie over ; 

For night, the negro, reigns. " Past twelve o'clock," 

The drowsy watchman bawls ; 

Mute — nature's busied voice, her brawl and hum ; 

While horror, creeping on the world of gloom, 

Breathes her dark spirit through this death-like hour. 

Now from her silver-fringed east the moon 

Peeps on the vast of shade, upmounting slow, 

In solemn stillness, till the labouring orb, 

Freed from the caves of darkness, gains its sphere, 

And moves in splendid solitude along. 

Having introduced you to knowledge, let me have the honour of 
presenting you also to virtue. You have the greatest reason to be 
thankful that you have examples of virtue in those who continually 
surround you, and whose influence is strengthened by natural relation- 
ship as well as religion. To their well wishes I would join my own. 
How should I, as your friend, wish you to reason with yourself? " Is 
it all enchantment around me ? I cannot, I will not trust it. Some- 
thing whispers me at this moment, that there is nothing so beautiful, so 


sweet as virtue. As for my passions, which were made to submit and 
serve, shall they usurp the command, and precipitate me whithersoever 
they will, in spite of reason, and in spite of conscience ? Dignity and 
independence disdain the thought ! It is easy to talk and boast of plea- 
sure ; but in the opinion of a reasonable being, no gratification that is 
inconsistent with peace and purity can merit so agreeable a name. 
Why should I be tempted to dream of liberty, in breaking the laws of 
virtue ? Do I not perceive that I am then only free and self possessed, 
when I follow cheerfully the dictates of my soul 1 When I act other- 
wise, do I not feel myself enslaved and wretched ? With regard to the 
praise of others, what were the caresses of thousands, if conscience 
should accuse, and reason condemn 1 Then as to the world, with all 
her gaudy and fantastic train, how frivolous, impotent, and contempti- 
ble, v/hen opposed to the dominion of truth, rising in her naked and 
unadorned majesty ? Begone, ye gay, glittering, but inconstant and 
deceitful phantoms of criminal and vain delight ! By whatever name 
you may be called, whatever plausible appearance you may assume, 
begone ; and give place to the sublime and invariable honours of wis- 
dom, to the solid and certain joys of goodness ! I am purposed that I 
will not transgress ; my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live." 
If these become the habitual resolutions of your heart, what sources 
of never-failing consolation are assigned for you ! Yes, virtue is the 
source, and the only source of pleasure. Thus sung the immortal 
Milton : — • 

" He that has light within his own clear breast 
May sit i' th' centre, and enjoy bright day ; 
But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts, 
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun : 
Himself is his own dungeon." 

Did religion do nothing but save us from the reproaches of our own 
hearts, it would do much ; it would, on this account, be in the highest 
sense of the word estimable ; for a " wounded spirit who can bear 1" 
Where shall we look for happiness, if not within 1 Should this forsake 
us, should we never feel the glow of self approbation, and conscious- 
ness of virtue, what a gloom is thrown over life ! what a house of dark- 
ness is the world ! what a wretch is man ! " Thine heart," says an 
offended God to a sinner, " thine heart shall meditate terror ;" and what 
then shall soothe and condole us 1 what human skill can devise a balm 
to heal wounds inflicted by Heaven ? The attempt were vain. It would 
irritate and inflame, but not heal. From the dark abyss, the dismal 
chaos of a condemning mind, but one hand can draw us, and that is the 
hand of mercy ; and what may add to our consolation, a hand never 
solicited in vain. It shall bring our feet out of the mire and the clay, and 
set them upon a rock. Silencing our fears, and saving us from our 
doubts, we shall bear the noble testimony of the apostle, " Our hearts 
condemn us not, and we have confidence toward God." But it does 
more for us ; it gives a positive happiness, fills the void over which we 
languish, satisfies the hungry soul, and makes glad the sorrowful soul, 
opens springs in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, makes our 
cup to run over with blessings, and anoints us with the oil of gladness. 
Virtue gives whatever is great and good in man. Honour, probity, 
fidelity, sympathy, friendship, social and domestic happiness ; all these 


are but empty sounds in the mouth of any but a virtuous character. — 
She gives joys which vice never, with all her flattering promises, pre- 
tends to offer ; and bestows a zest, a relish upon those that are common 
to all, which they cannot have without her. Her influence spreads 
through life, diverges into every condition, penetrates into every state ; 
the guardian of youth, the honour of manhood, and the crown of age ; 
the shield of prosperity, and the prop of affliction ; our guide in actual 
life, and our solace in retirement. She holds the keys of life, and will 
finally open to us the gate of immortality. 

I must now leave you. Believe me when I say that I wish you 
every thing that can make you useful and happy. 

To Mr. John Faulkner, of Manchester. 

Liverpool, Feb. 9th, 1807. 
My Dear Sir, — I have embraced the present opportunity to send a 
short epistle, according to promise ; but have a horrid pen, and the 
penknife is mislaid. We returned from Manchester, as you saw, thick 
and three-fold in the vehicle ; but arrived safe. Danger, however, is 
neither confined to adventurous voyaging in the mighty world of waters, 
nor to those terrene conveyances, when you trust your neck to a slen- 
der spring and a drunken coachman. She possesses a kind of omni- 
presence ; and successfully wields a thunder storm, or a grain of sand ; 
and accomplishes her purposes by means great and small, dreaded and 
despised. Somehow or other, it appears that I had incurred the wrath 
of the old beldame ; and the punishment she chose in her wisdom to 
inflict was a subterraneous plunge into one of those mantraps with 
which her prime ministers in Liverpool have so plentifully bestrewed the 
streets. Whether she intended to break my neck or my leg, to perforate 
my skull or to dislocate my shoulder, I shall not now determine ; though 
the fall was sufficient for all these ; but my guardian angel brought me 
off with only a sprained knee, which I take as a friendly memento. — 
It has a voice which says, " Walk more carefully in the night, lest a 
worse thing happen unto thee." 

Seriously, I have hurt myself very much, and am yet confined to the 

house. My journey to Chester was attended with circumstances both 

painful and • pleasing. Travelling in pain, preaching in still greater, 

with a leg swelled to four times its natural size, and highly inflamed ; 

dragged to and from the chapel in a gig, and confined, when in the 

house, to its precincts ; going into the town in the dark, and leaving it 

before light, without any gratification arising from the novelty of a 

place not visited before ; tossed upon the river on my return, so as 

neither to sit nor stand; — these, and other circumstances, were not the 

most pleasing. On the other hand, the kind attentions of friends, a 

sense of the Divine presence, and a tolerable degree of freedom in 

preaching the word, may be balanced against the former; and, on the 

whole, I have nothing to regret, though the exertion has protracted the 

recovery of my limb. Next Sabbath I preach a funeral sermon in 

Mount-Pleasant chapel, belonging to the old friends, who have lent it 

to us for the occasion ; and to-morrow I expect to dine in company 

with the preachers. Being confined, I have not had an opportunity to 

call upon Miss — — , with the message of your beloved. I shall call 

when I can walk ; but I suppose that it will be a few days longer. — 

Vol. I 5 


Now we are upon the subject, let me say that I am glad you are in 
love. With the object of your affection I have not the pleasure to be 
acquainted ; but have no doubt she is every way worthy of it. It is 
equally conducive to happiness and rectitude to form an honourable 
attachment of that kind. The human heart is formed for love ; and love 
and friendship are among those efficacious causes which the goodness 
of the Divine Being hath still left on earth to humanize the soul, and 
soften the asperities of life. In that connection be sincere. Ifj 
you have made your choice with deliberation, abide by it. Caprice 
is at enmity with love. There must be an unbounded confidence and 
exclusive preference. The heart must be kept free from suspicion, 
and every wish must beat in unison. It must not be unnoticed, that 
esteem is the only sure basis of love. Build it upon whatever else you 
please, — on youth, on beauty, on wealth, on affability of temper, on 
diligence, on assiduity, — all will fail but virtue ; and the fondest affec- 
tion by degrees will sink into indifference, carelessness, aversion, and 
perhaps hatred. Just views of God, a conduct regulated by them, the 
temper of the heart softened by Divine influence, supreme love to the 
Author of all our benefits, a calm, tranquil confidence in his mercy and 
guidance through the promise of his Son, and a constant endeavour to 
approve yourselves to him in all the public and private walks of life : 
these will make you respectable to each other; you will reflect with 
pleasure upon the commencement of your acquaintance, you will bless 
the Providence which has made you the sharers of each other's griefs 
and joys ; and, after having filled up the offices of life, you will find your 
friendship and love made perfect in a better and heavenly state. I feel 
much interested in your welfare. May the gracious Being who super- 
intends the affairs of his unworthy creatures guide you by his counsel, 
and distinguish your future lives with the communication of every 
necessary blessing of life and salvation. Present my sincere respects 
to your unknown. My most affectionate remembrances to the Avhole 
family. We hope soon to see Miss Rebecca. A sight of any of you 
always yields me the greatest pleasure. 

The following lines have been preserved in the family of the Faulk- 
ners, as the composition of Mr. Watson; but at what time they were 
written we are not informed. They appear to have been designed for 
a Sunday school anniversary. The writer possessed the true poetic 
genius ; but did not study poetry as an art. Some of the lines are too 
long, and others too short ; and in one instance the rhyme is false ; but, 
altogether, the piece is worth preserving. 

Hail, heaven-born charity ! to thee we bring 

The choral voice, and consecrated string, 

Nor blush thy praise to tell, thy acts to show, 

Though different themes in worldly bosoms glow. 

Let them the warrior's deeds with transport trace, 

And sing war's triumphs with unblushing face, 

Wake its dire passions into life again, 

Dance over seas of blood, and shout o'er millions slain j 

Or haste to pleasure's shrine, and festive raise 

Their noisy paeans and alluring lays ; 

To silence warning conscience raise their breath, 

And strew with gaudy 'flowers the way to death. 


Our theme is charity. From heaven she sprung, 

Long ere this earth in sable ether hung, 

Adored by angels in the realms above, 

Image of God, — for God himself is love. 

When this fair globe, at Heaven's supreme command, 

From nothing rose, and own'd his powerful hand, 

Her mystic influence spread from pole to pole, 

And temper' d, form'd, and harmonized the whole ; 

Hush'd by her voice, the elements repose, 

And forth from chaos light and beauty rose. 

" Let us make man," the triune Godhead said: 

His word is power ; he spake, and man was made. 

Smiled then fair charity at his behest, 

And on the yielding clay her image prest ; 

There bade her tender amities to glow, 

There taught the sympathetic tear to flow ; 

Justice with pity, love with reason, join'd, 

And bade him feel the sorrows of his kind. 

When to the skies our rash rebellion rose, 

And angry Heaven condemn'd his guilty foes ; 

When the red lightning from his throne was hurl'd, 

To blast in ruin dire a sinful world ; 

Thou didst from realms of light the Saviour lead, 

To bleed, and die, and suffer in our stead. 

And, O, he died ! love triumph'd, Heaven grew mild, 

And God and man by thee were reconciled. 

Raised from the grave, by thee his heaven he gains, 

And o'er his world redeem'd in mildness reigns, 

Joins human sympathies to love Divine, 

The Friend, Protector, Patron of mankind; 

He rose ; but in his flight his mantle fell, 

Spirit of love, with us on earth to dwell. 

His true disciples catch the' inspiring grace, 

In deeds of love their Master's footsteps trace : 

No more for sects, and forms, and parties fight, 

But prove by charity their faith is right. 

Hail, charity Divine ! inspiring name, 

The children of the poor thy praise proclaim ; 

Grateful to thee our lisping songs ascend, 

Our patron thou ; of friendless names the friend. 

To thy assiduous, tender care we owe 

Teachers, and schools, and benefactors too. 

Open'd our mind's bright eye, the shades give way, 

And knowledge dawns, and spreads the cheering day 

Rescued from vice and ignorance we prove 

The strength of piety, the charms of love. 

Hail, charity Divine ! to thee we bring 
The choral voice, and consecrated string. 
Hail, charity Divine ! to thee we owe 
All that on earth can happiness bestow. 

On completing his first year in Liverpool, Mr. Watson finished the 
period of his probation as a minister in the new connection : he there- 
fore attended the conference in Leeds, in the year 1807, when he was 
admitted into full connection with that body.' His brethren showed 
the estimate which they formed of his character by appointing him the 
secretary of the conference at the same time. He was also requested 
to write the annual pastoral address to the societies ; from which the 
following extracts are made. They are at once honourable to the 
writer, and to the body by which they were adopted. 


" Let us, dear brethren, be seriously mindful of the hope of our high 
calling. If religious concerns be at all important, they are infinitely 
important; if they are worthy of our attention, they are worthy of our 
undivided attention ; and the man who sits carelessly and at ease in 
Zion deprives himself of every thing which constitutes real happiness 
and honour ; of every thing which would render him useful to the Church 
and to the world ; of every thing which supports hope, and secures sal- 
vation. ' Behold, I come quickly : hold fast that which thou hast.' 

"On the subject of family devotion, so criminally neglected by too 
many professors of religion in the present day, we would be explicit. 
In this respect we wish the heads of families in the new connection to 
be highly exemplary. In every point of view this duty is important. — 
It is intimately connected with our personal character as Christians; 
with our influence in society ; and more especially with the salvation 
of our offspring. Behold the children which God hath given you. — 
They have the strongest claims upon your exertions ; they look to you 
for instruction ; they are cast upon your care ; and they place you 
under an awful responsibility. Consecrate, then, your houses to God; 
rescue those who depend upon your care from the destroyer ; devote 
them by prayer to God ; form them by instruction to habits of reflec- 
tion, and the practice of holiness ; and thus share in the praise of 
Abraham : ' I know him, that he will command his children and his 
household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.' 

" In this age of error and infidelity, when many have wholly de- 
nied the faith, and others, from an indifference to truth, have departed 
from that purity of doctrine which is essential to vital and Scriptural 
piety, we recommend all our preachers, both circuit and local, closely 
to study, and earnestly to enforce, the great and distinguishing doc- 
trines of the New Testament. Never treat them lightly ; they are 
the foundations of our faith, and the sources of our comfort. Let the 
bubbles of opinion, blown up by the breath of vanity, sink unnoticed 
into their deserved oblivion ; but make it your boast and glory, in public 
and in private, to train up our people in that plain, Scriptural knowledge 
which uniform experience has proved to be most efficient in its moral 
effects ; and the only instrument in the conversion of men, on which 
hope can rest with any satisfaction." 

Being re-appointed to Liverpool, Mr. Watson returned to that town, 
where he continued his acceptable ministry, and still exercised him- 
self in literary composition. During this year (1807) he compiled a 
popular history and description of Liverpool, which was deduced from 
the large works of Enfield and Aikin, with a considerable portion of 
original matter. It was published by his friend Mr. Kaye, in a neat 
pocket volume, and was well received by the natives, and by strangers 
visiting that great mart of commerce. At the request of the same 
friend, Mr. Watson also wrote a brief history of the reign of George 
III., as a continuation of Dr. Goldsmith's "Abridgment of the History of 
England." It occupies about seventy closely-printed duodecimo pages, 
and contains some spirited sketches of the characters of eminent indi- 
viduals, and of public events. The sentiments of the writer through- 
out are eminently loyal and patriotic ; and his anxiety for the national 
independence and honour, in the tremendous conflict with France and 
the greater part of Europe then combined against her, is very striking 


and apparent. His heart was truly British ; and his attachment to 
George III., and to the favourite ministers of that revered monarch, was 
strong and decided. Having related some brilliant successes of the 
English fleet and army, and the death of Nelson, Pitt, and Fox, Mr. 
Watson thus closes his interesting narrative : — 

"Thus at the close of the year 1806, did Britain mingle her tri- 
umphs and her afflictions. On the one hand she had seen her navy 
triumph in every part of the globe ; she had extended her colonial 
possessions, and multiplied the sources of her commerce ; from her 
enemies she had wrested some of their most valuable settlements, and 
seen her arms triumph over those of the conquerors of the continent, 
on the plains of Maida. But on the other, some of the ablest direc- 
tors of her councils, and the brightest ornaments of her senate, were 
removed by death from her service, and that at a period when the 
alarming circumstances of the times called most imperiously for the 
assistance of every thing great and patriotic in man. She was almost 
entirely excluded from the continent ; and nearly the whole of Europe 
was prostrate at the feet of her natural and implacable enemy and 
rival. The year 1807 has, however, been ushered in with the dawn 
of hope. The eyes of the world are fixed upon the eventful contest 
between the hardy sons of the north, and the legions of an unprincipled 
but successful usurper. What the event will be, is highly problemati- 
cal. The occurrences of late years have sported with the penetration 
of the wisest, and have made it folly to conjecture." 

On completing this early publication Mr. Watson addressed the 
following jeu-d'esprit to his friend Mr. Kaye, at whose request the 
work was written. The personage mentioned in the first line is the 
messenger employed by printers in carrying manuscripts and proof 
sheets to and from authors and editors : — 

No longer haunted by your devil, 

Though late in dumps, I 'm now grown civil ; 

And though I boast a patriot's merit, 

Nor rane'rous hate of kings inherit, 

With warmest loyalty attended, 

I 'm glad the reign of George is ended. 

Let no sly Bow-street prowling sinner, 

Gaping for treason as he gapes for dinner, 

For this one word clap on his fetters, 

And take poor author 'fore his betters. 

'Tis no complaint of canting faction, 

Dyed black in heart, though fair in action ; 

'Tis not rebellion's exultation, 

Degrading prince to raise the nation ; 

'Tis author's trump of jubilee, 

Who, from his pens and papers free, 

From parlour close, and subjects bare, 

Struts stately forth, and breathes the air ; 

And, from dull books and thinking free, 

Tastes idleness and vacancy. 

Yes ; George's reign is fully ended, 

And sent to press, can't now be mended. 

The books of ref 'rence sent by you, 

Affording news both old and new, 

Are in brown paper closely penn'd in, 

And you may have them home for sending. 



The critical situation of Great Britain at this period awakened in 
Mr. Watson's mind a more than ordinary solicitude. As an humble 
Methodist preacher, without wealth, connections, or personal influence, 
he appeared to be incapable of rendering her any essential service. 
But he had an understanding to comprehend, a heart to feel, and an 
eloquent and vigorous pen ; and he determined, so far as his official 
duties would permit, to employ these in maintaining her interests and 
honour. His friend Mr. Kaye resolved on the publication of a weekly 
newspaper, upon loyal and constitutional principles ; and Mr. Watson 
lent his assistance in its management. The following extracts from 
the prospectus which was written by him, will show the political 
principles which he then entertained, and his general views concern- 
ing public affairs : — 

" In times like the present, when Europe is continually presenting 
great and alarming political revolutions ; when a bold and successful 
usurper, infatuated with the ambition of universal dominion, extends the 
rod of his tyranny over the prostrate nations ; and when in consequence 
of his intrigues and conquests, the foreign relations of Great Britain 
become daily more intricate and embarrassing ; every man who ha* 
the least stake in his country's welfare must enter warmly into its in- 
terests ; and if not blinded by party rage, and perverted by political 
fanaticism, will heartily co-operate in those measures which tend to 
maintain its dignity, and preserve its independence. 

" Serious, however, as are the affairs of Europe, they are not so dis- 
tressing to reflection as the divided state of politics at home. Britain 
at one with herself is invulnerable to her enemies ; in her resources 
equal to her wants, and in her energies equal to her contests. It is 
therefore sincerely to be lamented, that, at the time when unanimity 
is most pressingly required to employ those resources, and direct those 
energies, faction should divide our councils, and the rancour of oppo- 
sition disturb the operations of patriotic virtue. There are critical 
periods in the history of empires, when every thought should be ab- 
sorbed in the public safety, and in which division is discomfiture. 
Philip conquered by the disputes of Athens ; and the animosities ex- 
cited between the patricians and the plebeians brought the ^Equi and 
the Volsci to the gates of Rome. 

" Devotedly attached to the person and family of a sovereign who 
has so long adorned the throne by his virtues, and heartily embracing 
the principles of the British constitution in Church and state, the pub- 
lisher scruples not to profess himself an enemy to those measures which 
would derogate from the dignity of the one, or violate the purity and 
endanger the existence of the other. Equally opposed to intolerance 
and to anarchy, he shall feel proud if any attempts of his be successful 
enough to lead his readers more highly to estimate that mild and pater- 
nal government which so fully secures us from both ; and more care- 
fully to guard against those delusions which would steal away our 
great and real privileges under the frail pretence of granting others 
greater and more valuable. 

" Should we even allow the zeal of our modern reformers to be real 
in its principles, and sincere in its objects, it will not follow that on 
this account it is less dangerous. No qualities are perhaps more rarely 
to be found in man than those which are requisite to the task of politi- 


cal reform, when even necessary. The time when, and the manner 
how, will not be readily descried by clamour and violence, by precipi- 
tation and pertinacity. The application of the pruning knife to the 
branch is often relinquished to strike a blow at the root, merely to 
show the vigour of the arm that wields the exterminating axe. 
Melius, peijus, prost, obsit, nil vident nisi quod lubent." 

With these views and principles Mr. Watson lent his powerful aid to 
his friend in the establishment of a journal which exerted no common 
influence upon the public mind. It was decidedly in favour of the ex- 
isting administration, and was very extensively read ; and appearing 
in one of the largest and most influential towns in the empire, the 
assistance which it afforded the government in the protracted and ar- 
duous struggle with France and her allies was valuable and efficient. 
The leading articles were regularly copied into one of the most popu- 
lar of the London daily papers, and were thus circulated through the 
kingdom.* That a young man who had never been accustomed to as- 
sociate with statesmen and senators, and had spent the greater part of 
his life in comparative obscurity, should have acquired the requisite 
knowledge for such a service, and the necessary facility in composi- 
tion, is a striking proof of the energy and resources of his mind ; and, 
indeed, such was his readiness in comprehending any subject to which 
he directed his attention, and the rapidity with which he expressed 
himself in writing, that his literary engagements in connection with 
the Liverpool Courier were in many instances rather a relaxation from 
severer studies, than an onerous addition to his limited official duties. 
Public papers are indispensable, as vehicles of intelligence, in a trad- 
ing community ; and when the very existence of the nation was me- 
naced by a mighty and determined enemy, so that almost every post 
was expected to bring information of the deepest importance, the public 
prints, of course, commanded almost universal attention ; and it must 
have been a high gratification to Mr. Watson, that he was able to place 
before so many of his countrymen a record of passing occurrences, 
connected with a recognition of Divine providence, and in a tone of 
pure and elevated morality. Men who thus contribute to the know- 
ledge and improvement of society are among its greatest benefactors. 
Mr. Watson's services in this respect were perfectly voluntary ; the 
spontaneous effusions of personal friendship, and of patriotic and loyal 
feeling ; for through life he was as much distinguished by disinterested- 
ness and generosity, as by the strength of his understanding. 

In the midst of his engagements and studies he found time occasion- 
ally to correspond with his friends. The following letter shows the 
kindness of his heart, and his anxiety to turn a painful bereavement to 
the spiritual benefit of a young friend. It was addressed to Mr. Faulk- 
ner, jun. ; and is dated, Liverpool, December, 1807'. 

Dear Sir, — I was affected, but not surprised, to hear of the death 
of your sister. From events oi this kind much good may be derived, 
however painful they may be to our feelings. 

*The paper here referred to was the London Courier, the conductors of which 
had the meanness, from year to year, to copy the leading articles from the Liv. 
erpool journal of the same name, without ever acknowledging the source whence 
they were derived. 


" Smitten friends are messengers of love : 
For us they sicken, and for us they die." 

The fervent glow of life does but waste the oil of the lamp which 
sustains its light ; and our approaches to vigour and manhood are but 
approaches to the grave. Few love to think on death. The thought 
is not pleasing. It cannot, with its melancholy reflections ; and it is 
not necessary that it should constantly occupy our minds. But it is 
necessary that it should occupy them more than perhaps it does ; and 
the death of friends imperiously forces the subject upon us. The wise 
consider their latter end, and make it their business to divest its ap- 
proaches of alarm ; and so to live, that the last act of life, the act of 
dying, may be honourable to their memories, and easy to their minds. 
" For me to live is Christ," says an apostle, " and to die is gain ;" and 
it is only such a life that can produce such a death. The living faith 
of a Christian realizes unseen objects, and gives them, even in this 
world, a present subsistence. Hence his better thoughts repose in 
heaven ; and though he is in the world, he is not of the world. He 
enters now by faith where Jesus his forerunner is entered ; and death 
only brings him personally into that region in which by faith and love 
he had his dwelling place before. Two things prepare us either for 
life or death : an interest in Christ ; and a firm and settled intention to 
please him in our conduct. May they be possessed by you ! 

" Then when the last, the closing hour draws nigh, 
And earth recedes before my swimming eye ; 
When trembling on the doubtful edge of fate, 
I stand, and stretch my views to either state ; 
Teach me to quit this transitory scene 
With decent triumph, and a look serene ; 
Teach me to fix my ardent hopes on high, 
And, having lived to thee, in thee to die." 

I have been indisposed from a severe cold. Little Tom is ill of the 
measles ; and Mrs. Watson is very unwell. I write in haste, and have 
not time to add more. Present my most affectionate remembrance to 
the whole family. 

At the conference of the new connection, held at Huddersfield, in 
June, 1808, Mr. Watson was a second time appointed secretary to that 
body. He also wrote the annual address to the societies ; from which 
the following extracts are selected. They show the deep interest 
which he took in the state of Europe in general, and especially of 
Great Britain. 

" With those of our societies who, from their situation in the manu- 
facturing parts of the country, have been exposed to many severe pri- 
vations through the unfavorable state of our national commerce, we 
deeply sympathize. To such we would say, ' In your patience possess 
ye your souls.' These are truly days of tribulation ; but let us never 
forget the invisible hand which directs the operations of providence. — 
There is a spirit in the wheels which carry his purposes into execu- 
tion ; and though their movements may appear to us variable and con- 
tradictory, they are all regulated by infinite wisdom and goodness: — 
' Clouds and darkness are round about him ; justice and judgment are 
the habitation of his throne.' The kingdom of Christ will come : hap- 


pier days will dawn upon the Church and the world ; and though the 
preparations for this great event may be marked with dispensations of 
sorrow and sufferings, never will God forget his people. In his bosom 
they rest, and upon the rock of his Divine love they shall be surely 
fixed, amidst the awful whirl of human events, and in every storm and 
revolution of life. Cease not, brethren, to remember the word on which 
he has caused you to hope : ' All things work together for good to them 
that love God.' 

" But while the present state of the world forcibly directs the atten- 
tion of the servants of God to the consolation of Israel, as their refuge 
and help, it ought likewise to impress you with new motives to zeal 
and exemplary holiness. The judgments of God are the fan in the 
hand of Christ, by which he purges his Church, and separates the chaff 
from the wheat. Let every one, therefore, take heed to himself. — • 
Superficial religion affords no succour, no resource in the day of trouble. 
It cannot fulfil the designs of the Son of God, who hath called us to 
holiness ; and, however it may amuse the conscience, it will still leave 
us exposed to the fiery indignation which shall devour the wicked. 

" We cannot deceive the eye of Omniscience by our pretensions, or 
recommend ourselves to his favourable regard by our lukewarmness. — 
' The Lord knoweth them that are his ;' and in order to secure the 
happiness of a saving interest in his favour, let us press after all the 
mind of Christ, and all the power of piety, that we may escape the fate 
of the wicked and the hypocrite, and maintain that decision of character 
in a corrupt world, which will equally honour the religion of our Mas- 
ter, and prove the most effectual instrument in the conversion of our 
fellow men. 

" Let the ministers of Christ be peculiarly impressed with the neces- 
sity of great and enlarged exertions in the present circumstances of the 
age in which we live. You preach under the most impressive circum- 
stances. The judgments of God are abroad in the earth, and they give 
weight and terror to your ministry. Not only the awful prospects of 
eternity lend you aid in the conversion of men ; but the hand of God 
is now lifted up over the whole earth. The threatening cloud of his 
wrath rolls from nation to nation. The lightnings of his anger enlighten 
the world with their awful glare. Speak, then, and spare not. Weep 
between the porch and the altar, and cry, ' Spare thy people, O Lord.' 
Let the sufferings of men, the just recompense of sin, awaken your 
compassion ; and with holy boldness, mixed and tempered with the 
softest sympathy, employ every power of your nature in spreading a 
penitential sorrow for sin through the land ; that the anger of God may 
be propitiated, that he may turn his face and shine upon us, that we 
may be saved. 

" Finally, brethren, we commend you to God. May your strength 
be according to your day. May the Spirit of truth and power go forth 
with his servants, and his vital presence be felt in all your assemblies. 
May you have peace in all your borders, and prosperity in your souls." 

At this period Mr. Watson's health was so delicate as to render him 
unable to take his full share of labour in the extensive circuits of the 
connection to which he belonged: he was therefore returned a third 
year to Liverpool, where he was, in a great measure, exempted from 
travelling, and from exposure to the night air. At the same time, his 


ministry was characterized by such a richness and variety of matter, 
that there was no danger lest it should lose its interest with the socie- 
ties and congregations. The event fully justified the appointment. — 
During the first year in which he had the pastoral charge of the Liver- 
pool circuit, there was a decrease in the societies under his care of 
twenty-four members ; during the second year there was an increase 
of two ; and in the third year, an increase of sixty-five. His^reaching 
presented strong attractions to people in general, and especially to young 
persons of education and intelligence ; many of whom were often drawn 
to his chapel by the report of his great intellectual power and impres- 
sive eloquence. Not a few of these, who came to hear him from motives 
of curiosity, often quailed in his presence, and turned pale under his 
affecting appeals to the conscience on the all-important subject of per- 
sonal religion. Christianity they perceived to be, not a matter of 
opinion and speculation, but a revelation of mercy to sinners, whose 
everlasting happiness is suspended upon their believing acceptance of 
it ; and they saw that Mr. Watson's preaching was not intended to 
gratify a sickly sentimentality, or to afford amusement to loungers ; but 
to bring men to repentance, and to turn them effectually from sin and 
the world to God and holiness. The sanctions of the Gospel, derived 
from judgment and eternity, appeared in all their awfulness and cer- 
tainty in the ministry which they had been induced to attend ; the 
misery of lost spirits was described in all its intensity ; and the man- 
ner in which triflers were admonished to flee from the wrath to come, 
and to apply to Christ for salvation, in many instances produced im- 
pressions the most salutary and permanent. Among others, the late 
Rev. John James derived great benefit from Mr. Watson's ministry, 
during his appointment to Liverpool. 

Mr. Watson continued to cherish a lively concern for the national 
welfare ; and in the course of this year (1808) he produced a political 
pamphlet, which excited considerable attention, in reply to Mr. Roscoe. 
This gentleman was connected with a large banking establishment in 
Liverpool, and had recently represented that borough in parliament. 
He was distinguished as a philanthropist, an elegant scholar, and a 
patron of the fine arts ; and his connections, as a public man, were ex- 
tensive and powerful. In politics he identified himself with that party 
in the state who, during the war with revolutionary France, were per- 
petually prophesying evil against this country, attempting to embarrass 
the government, and recommending the nation to crouch to Napoleon 
Bonaparte. With this design he published a pamphlet, which quickly 
passed through several editions, entitled, " Considerations on the Causes, 
Objects, and Consequences of the present War, and on the Expediency 
or the Danger of Peace with France." 

With the assumptions, the reasonings, and the design of this publica- 
tion Mr. Watson held no sympathy ; and as he thought its tendency to 
be mischievous, he entered the lists against this popular and accom- 
plished writer, and produced " A Letter to William Roscoe, Esq., con- 
taining Strictures on his late Publication." This is a very able pro- 
duction. It is written with great force of argument, and in a strain of 
powerful and commanding eloquence, and made a considerable impres- 
sion upon the public mind. The author has decidedly the advantage 
over his antagonist throughout the discussion, and shows a deep con- 


cem for the honour and welfare of his country. The opening and 
concluding paragraphs will exhibit Mr. Watson's manner of writing, and 
the views which he entertained concerning the question at issue. 

"War is an evil of such magnitude, involves so many scenes of 
individual and national calamity, and is so repulsive to every enlight- 
ened and liberal feeling, that those who either inflict it without cause, 
or continue it beyond the demands of necessity, equally deserve the 
execrations of mankind. As it is the last reason, so it ought to be the 
last resort, of kings. No means should be left untried to preserve the 
relations of amity, so essential to the vital interests of all countries 
without exception, and no opportunity favourable to the return of peace 
(the best of human blessings) ought to pass by without regard. A power, 
originally injured, if it refuse reasonable and safe terms of conciliation, 
becomes equally guilty with the first aggressor, and changes its relations. 
What was at first an act of defensive resistance, then becomes an act 
of unjustifiable offensive encroachment. 

" Feeling the impression of these truths upon my own convictions, I 
should have gone with you to the full length of those pacific sentiments 
contained in your pamphlet, had they stood in the simple and com- 
manding majesty of truth, wholly disconnected with the rancour of 
party, and the perversions of prejudice. He must, however, have read 
your performance with little attention, who does not perceive that, while 
you contend for peace with foreign powers, you do it in the spirit of 
domestic hostility; and that your opinions are supported by facts 
exaggerated on the one part, and either falsely coloured, or wholly 
suppressed on the other. These, sir, I hope to prove in the sequel 
are not unfounded allegations ; and though I respect your virtues, and 
admire your talents, I shall not be deterred by either from pursuing the 
tract of fair, manly inquiry into the real merits of your political labours, 
though it may be at the expense of the exposure of the fallacy of your 
arguments, and the deficiency of your candour. 

" You have observed in your preface, ' that the honour of the nation 
is the honour of the people, and the disgrace of the nation their dis- 
grace.' On this ground, sir, I meet you. I feel interested in the 
honour of my country : I should blush at her disgrace : and it is because 
I think that you have libelled her character ; because you have assimi- 
lated yourself to those hireling editors of the French and German 
papers, whose daily effort is to degrade her in the eyes of Europe ; 
and because the whole tendency of your pamphlet is to produce distrust 
and create alarm, and by paralyzing the energies of the people in the 
present contest for all that renders political existence valuable, the in- 
dependence of the country, is defeating its own object, the accomplish- 
ment of a speedy peace ; it is, sir, I say, for these reasons that I become 
your opponent. Your name, it is true, may give a sanction to your 
opinions ; that advantage will be wholly in your favour ; but the true 
merits of the question are not to be thus determined, nor truth con- 
founded and driven from the field by the ' whistling of a name.' " 

" You have told us repeatedly that since the separation of Russia 
from our interests, ' all the motives which were urged for the prosecu- 
tion of the war have ceased to operate ; and that we are now left with- 
out an ally, without an object, and without a cause.' If so, it is cer- 
tainly high time to turn our thoughts to the termination of a worse than 


useless struggle, and to employ ourselves in something more rational 
than a contest which has neither motive nor object. The late ministry, 
by their neglect of Russia, it is true, have left us without an ally of 
importance ; but the consequences of their misconduct have not been 
so fortunate in leaving us quite destitute of a cause. The defeat of the 
Russian arms, and the disgust produced in the mind of the Russian 
emperor by the conduct of the British ministers, in withholding their 
co-operation in the arduous contest in which he had been engaged, threw 
our most valuable ally into the arms of France. From that moment the 
principle of the war changed; France and Russia both joined in the 
same cause ; and the object of that coalition was to attack, and force 
us to renounce our maritime rights. To defend these has hitherto been 
the immediate object of the war since that time ; for what is the object 
of the enemy to destroy, is certainly our object to defend, and to pre- 
serve. The negotiations Bonaparte has held out to us since that time 
have been therefore for a ' maritime peace ;" that is, a peace in which 
we shall renounce all interference and connection with the continent 
of Europe, and render our naval rights and ancient maritime juris- 
prudence, the firmest bulwark of our safety and prosperity, the subject 
of discussion and infringement. This, then, is the kind of peace Bona- 
parte offers us ; and these are the principles on which we must com- 
mence a negotiation, if we commence it now. It remains then for you, 
who wish an immediate peace, and who blame ministers for not con- 
concluding one, to say whether we shall take it on these conditions. 
No, sir ; we will not accept this basis ; we will not suffer our naval 
superiority, the most precious gift of Providence, the most valuable 
legacy of our ancestors, and which has been confirmed to us by the 
valour of our contemporaries who have fought and died in our defence, 
to be made the subject of negotiation for a moment. Thank God, if 
we be true to ourselves, we can support the contest. While our navy 
stands unshaken amidst the wreck of nations, our trade will not only 
be protected, but enlarged. Difficulties only call forth the resources 
of a great people ; and the resources of England are not exhausted. 
She still possesses an extensive commerce ; and her capital, her in- 
dustry, and her enterprise must finally break down the barriers which 
are opposed to her prosperity. Bonaparte knows this, and he fears it ; 
and if he cannot succeed in enervating us by disunion, he is evidently 
prepared to acknowledge those rights, against which he so loudly 
declaims, and which we for that reason ought as strenuously to defend. 
This, sir, is the glorious object of the present struggle ; it is the object 
we are called upon, by every consideration of justice, honour, and 
interest, to defend. It is dear to us as the soil on which we tread, as 
the constitution under which we live. It is the only guarantee of our 
independence, and the only sure pledge of our future commercial pros- 
perity. If the sea cannot be our empire, let it be our grave. ' This 
is the true position, this is the high destiny of our country ; and nothing 
but a political suicide, a total incapacity to meet the bounties of Pro- 
vidence and to improve its blessings, can induce us to hesitate, for a 
moment, as to the course we ought to pursue.'" 

The generality of pious people are apt to consider political discus- 
sions absolutely incompatible with the sacred office ; and therefore 
regard with suspicion every minister of Christ who devotes any portion 


of his time to writing on subjects of this nature, as if he either 
neglected his proper duties, or indulged a secular spirit. To a consi- 
derable extent, this prejudice is well founded; yet there are cases in 
which Christian ministers may interpose their opinions on measures 
adopted by the civil power without any dereliction of duty. Many 
acts both of legislation and government are intimately connected with 
questions of morality and religion; and the public conscience looks for 
the advice and guidance of the men whose office it is to interpret the 
will of the Almighty. When the ministers of religion set themselves 
in opposition to legitimate and constitutional governments, and engage 
in plans of civil disorganization and strife, they merit the severest 
reprehension ; but when they lend their aid in support of just authority 
and social order, they act in perfect accordance with the example of 
their Lord and of his inspired servants. Mr. Wesley published seve- 
ral pamphlets on political affairs, especially during the American war; 
and his friend Mr. Fletcher followed his example : but who regards 
the founder of Methodism as having neglected the spiritual interests of 
mankind ; or thinks that the devout vicar of Madeley lost any of his 
spirituality of mind by writing his " Vindication of Mr. Wesley's Calm 
Address," " American Patriotism," and the " Bible and the Sword ?" 
When these distinguished ministers wrote in support of the measures 
of government, during the war of American independence, the object 
proposed in the struggle was merely the preservation of colonies; 
whereas the war with France was designed to preserve nothing less 
than our national existence and independence. The tyrant of the 
continent was said to have offered to a licentious soldiery the plunder 
of England as the reward of its subjugation. Against the combined 
power of Europe, however, this country successfully maintained the 
contest, fierce and tremendous as it was ; until at length the menaces 
of the enemy abroad, and the predictions which were so loudly uttered 
by the prophets of evil at home, were alike falsified ; and not only was. 
Great Britain with her colonies preserved, but the war ended in such a 
maimer as to leave the national honour unstained. To this day our 
country stands, the envy and admiration of the world, as the land of 
liberty and commerce, the benefactress of the human race. Her influ- 
ence and means of usefulness are unbounded. On the retrospect of 
the part which he had taken at the period in question, Mr. Watson 
could cherish no feelings but those of satisfaction ; for his was a heart 
at once loyal and patriotic, and whatever related to the national honour 
and welfare concerned him. In reference to his political writings his 
general remark was, — and it was often repeated to his friend Mr. Kaye, 
— " I wish to assist in bearing up the heart of the- nation under the 
pressure of its burdens and dangers." It does not, however, follow, that 
because a man so gifted as Mr. Watson rendered a valuable service to 
the country under very peculiar circumstances, and was able to do this 
without neglecting his proper duties as a Christian minister, that every 
officious meddler would be justified in obtruding his opinions upon the 
world whenever he might feel a desire to see his name in print. The 
public conduct of such men. as Messrs. Wesley, Fletcher, and Watson, 
is no rule to persons of ordinary capacity and attainments. 



Failure of Mr. Watson's health — Returned to Liverpool as a Supernumerary — 
Letter to Mr. John Faulkner— Writes Verses entitled " Enjoyments" — Memoir 
of the Rev. James Parry — Mr. Watson's views of Church Government — The 
Rev. Robert Nicholson — Providential Escape — Appointed to the Manchester 
Circuit — Publishes a Letter on Lord Sidmouth's Bill — Character of that Measure 
— Failure of Mr. Watson's health — Retirement from the Methodist New Connec. 
tion — Returns to Liverpool — Unites himself to the Wesleyan Body — Letters to 
Mr. Absalom Watkin. 

At the conference held in May, 1809, Mr. Watson was returned to 
Liverpool as a supernumerary preacher. Three years before he had 
complained in one of his letters, that his lungs were affected ; and that 
the manner in which they laboured appeared to him " prophetic of their 
end." The painful symptoms, however, at that time subsided, and he 
continued his public labours, though with many intervals of serious 
indisposition ; but now the symptoms returned, and presented a more 
alarming appearance. It seemed indeed as if his days were numbered, 
and his life and labours were hastening to a close. The blood oozed 
from his lungs, and he was compelled for some time almost entirely to 
suspend the work of preaching. The following letter, which was 
written at the commencement of the winter, describes the state of his 
health, and gives an interesting view of the religious principles to 
which his attention was directed in the time of affliction, and which 
afforded him consolation and support. The religion which was his 
strength and portion he earnestly recommends to his young friend. 

To Mr. John Faulkner, of Manchester. 

Liverpool, Nov. 23d, 1809. 

My Dear Friend, — I take the first opportunity to answer your 
friendly epistle. With respect to my health I continue in a very pre- 
carious state. I am not wholly free from the spitting of blood, and 
have almost constant pain in my breast. I at present preach little ; 
and with difficulty perform that share of duty ; but I feel that all things 
are most wisely ordered by a kind and gracious Providence ; and rest 
with full confidence upon this great truth, that " all things work together 
for good to them that love God." 

To the great Source of all good let me recommend you. What is 
the world without God ? What are even its highest pleasures ? And 
what, then, its frowns ? True, vital religion has always been regarded 
by me as equally essential to the happiness of this life, as to that of the 
next ; and therefore we much injure ourselves when we would put off 
its enjoyments to some future period of life, or perhaps to its last gasping 
moments. For why should we be unhappy so long, when happiness is 
now within our reach? What is religion, but love to the best of beings ; 
confidence in the most faithful of beings ; and friendship with the o-reat- 
est of beings? — to meditate with pleasure on his infinite wonders of 
nature and of operation; to have liberty to approach that throne of 
glory before which angels bow with reverence and rapture; to be 
under the eye and guidance of his superintending wisdom ; and to be 
filled with the spirit of light, peace, and sanctity? Our noblest employ- 
ment, the best plan of spending life, is to do all with a view to his 


glory ; to rise in the morning and direct our voice to Him, and look up ; 
to lie down with thanksgiving ; to perform the duties of life as the 
assignments of his providence ; and to embrace opportunities to consult 
his holy word, and think of his goodness. 

Present my affectionate remembrance to Mrs. Faulkner. May you 
walk together in all the statutes and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 
Consecrate your house to God in prayer, and the blessing of God will 
light upon your tabernacle. Present my kindest respects to your 
whole family. 

The same grateful and happy spirit which breathes through this 
beautiful letter, Mr. Watson expressed in the following poem, which he 
wrote a few Aveeks afterward. It is a parody upon some querulous 
verses, entitled, " Such things were," and beginning, 
" Scenes of my youth, ye once were dear." 

They were repeated to him by Mrs. Kaye's sister, in one of their social 
interviews ; when he acknowledged the elegance and spirit with which 
they were spoken, and said he would endeavour to produce something 
more worthy of her powers of recital. The result was the composition 
of these stanzas: — 


While o'er the various scenes of joy 

I gaze with ever-raptured eye, 
What though my bliss has felt alloy, 

And oft I 've seen my pleasure die ; 
No chilling look pale sorrow flings 

On what kind Heaven doth still bestow, 
My moments fly on downy wings, 

My joys in even current flow : 
Grateful to Heaven, I banish care, 
While I remember such things are. 

What though I hear no father speak, 

Nor set before me wisdom's prize ; 
What though no tear bedews my cheek, 

Warm from a mother's beaming eyes ; 
Firm in affection's primal ties, 

Their lessons to my soul I bind : 
Their bright example never dies, 

Their mantle they have left behind : 
From heaven they smile away my care, 
While I remember such things are. 

'Tis here in calm and tranquil rest, 

Far from the world's contempt and guile, 
Up to my highest wishes blest, 

With glowing friendship's open smile ; 
While others, hapless, doom'd to roam, 

And brave the fury of the seas, 
Mine are the pleasures of a home, 

Domestic joys, and heart at ease, 
With friends my joys and griefs to share, 
While I remember such things are. 

'Twas here, e'en in this bloomy grove, 

I first met Laura's tender eye ; 
That eye which speaks the soul -o{ love; 

That heart where all the virtues lie : 


But now I call the fair one mine, 

My friend, companion, and my wife ; 
While all affection's arts combine, 

Each to support and bless through life : 
Partner in every joy and care, 
I must remember such things are. 

Smiling my morn of life arose, 

Gay, guiltless pleasure led the hours ; 
Sudden behold the prospect close, 

On all the cloud of sickness lowers ; 
But from the skies a streaming light 

In brightness breaks above the sun ; 
Rises gay hope to meet the sight, 

And sorrow's sable night is gone ; 
A smiling God my griefs to bear, 
To whom I owe that such things are. 
Liverpool, Jan. 6th, 1810. W. 

Mr. Watson's next literary performance was a short biographical 
account of the Rev. James Parry, a minister in the Methodist new connec- 
tion ; and a young man of very superior talents and piety. It was in- 
serted in the Magazine of that body, in the months of July and August, 
1810 ; and consists mostly of letters written by the deceased. The fol- 
lowing remarks on the subject of a Divine call to the Christian ministry, 
which Mr. Watson has introduced into this memoir, are equally just and 
striking : — " I am not in possession of the exact time when Mr. Parry 
began to preach ; but in the year 1803, he was engaged as a tempo- 
rary supply in Chester. A strong desire to be engaged in the greatest 
and most noble work on earth, the administration of the word of life to 
a guilty world, appears to have operated in his heart from a very 
early period of his Christian life. This might arise from a warm bene- 
volence of soul, a sympathy for the misery of man, a disposition which 
is both the foundation and the top stone of ministerial qualifications, 
and which afterward shone conspicuously in his character. But it 
would be too cold, it would lean too much to those systems of modem 
divinity, half philosophized into deism, and disgustingly protruded into 
the world under the appellation of rational Christianity, to trace the 
feeling to no higher a source than native benevolence. He who assigns 
the bounds oi his habitation to every individual by the dispositions of a 
universal Providence, cannot be supposed to have no concern or part 
in the appointment of his own ministers. A bent, a disposition of mind 
to those serious engagements is often felt long before the future ambas- 
sador of God possesses full qualifications for the office : and these may 
be wisely designed to turn the attention to the contemplation of its 
duties, and its awful responsibility ; and to induce to a preparatory 
course of devotion and study, calculated to insure the sanction of the 
Church, and to promote future stability and usefulness. In this man- 
ner did our young friend, like Samuel, receive some early intima- 
tions of his future designation by God ; and, like him he felt the 
willing mind which answered the intimation by a ready and humble 

During the year which Mr. Watson spent as a supernumerary in 
Liverpool, the Rev. Robert Nicholson was his colleague, and lived in 
his family. His kindness and generosity to this excellent young 


man were unbounded. He assisted him in his studies ; preached for 
him when he was able ; allowed him the use of his library, and of his 
manuscripts, and gave him permission to copy what he pleased from 
them ; and at the same time he admitted him to his personal confidence. 
He gave Mr. Nicholson an account of his early life ; and declared his 
deep regret that he had ever left the Wesleyan connection. The con- 
cessions which were made by the conference in the year 1797, he 
thought had removed all ground of just complaint, in regard to the ad- 
ministration of Methodist discipline ; and that, therefore, the division 
which was made in the following year, when the new connection was 
formed, was unnecessary, and consequently unjustifiable. The prac- 
tical workings of the two systems of ecclesiastical order he had now 
witnessed ; and he gave a decided preference to that of the Wesleyan 
body, as being in his judgment attended with more beneficial results, 
and as coming nearer to the New Testament plan. In these views 
Mr. Nicholson concurred ; and two years after he left the Methodist 
new connection, and offered himself to the Wesleyan conference, by 
whom he was received as a fellow labourer. When he was stationed 
with Mr. Watson, and they ingenuously disclosed to each other their 
opinions and feelings, he suggested to his gifted colleague that he 
should offer himself again to his old friends ; but Mr. Watson replied 
that his infirm state of health, the circumstances connected with his 
former retirement from the work, and the fact of his having a family, 
all rendered it improbable that such an offer would be accepted ; he 
thought it better, therefore, for the present at least, to remain in the 
new connection, and to wait till the providence of God should more dis- 
tinctly point out to him the path of duty. In the meantime he made 
no attempts to disturb the peace of the societies by any disclosure to 
them of his private sentiments, but did every thing in his power to pro- 
mote their edification and prosperity. In the conference, however, 
and in his intercourse with his brethren the preachers, he- did what he 
could to promote a spirit of moderation, and to neutralize the unhallow- 
ed effects of the division. 

Comparative cessation from, the labours of the pulpit was greatly 
beneficial to his health ; and at length he was able to resume his min- 
istry. He preached a course of sermons on the attributes of God, and 
a series of lectures on the Epistle to the Hebrews ; both of which were 
highly admired, and rendered very profitable to his hearers. Accord- 
ing to Mr. Nicholson's account, Mr. Watson was not accustomed, at 
this period, to write largely with a reference to the pulpit. He seldom 
committed to paper more than a very concise outline of his discourses 
before their delivery, and often nothing at all. Yet his sermons were 
never rhapsodical and incoherent ; but were well studied and arranged 
in his own mind. He generally prepared for the pulpit while pacing 
backward and forward in his room ; and in this manner he was often 
employed for several hours together, absorbed in intense thought, his 
intelligent and expressive countenance varying with the deeply-inte- 
resting subjects which passed successively through his mind. On one 
occasion especially, during this year, he gave a striking proof of his 
great powers as a preacher, and of the readiness with which he could 
meet any emergency in the course of his ministrations. While he was 
in the chapel attending the worship of God on a Sunday morning, the 

Vol. I. 6 


steeple of a neighbouring church fell with a tremendous crash upon the 
congregation, and many lives were lost. He was deeply affected with 
this catastrophe ; and his impressions were strengthened by the circum- 
stance, that, not many minutes before it fell, he had walked close by 
this building on his way to the chapel, unconscious of danger. Believ- 
ing, on the testimony of his Saviour, that the very hairs of his head 
were all numbered, he had not learned to inquire in the language of 
infidel philosophy, 

"When the loose mountain trembles from on high, 
Shall gravitation cease if you go by 1 
Or some old temple, nodding to its fall, 
For Chartres' head reserve the hanging wall ?" 

He therefore attributed his preservation to that Divine interference 
without which not even a sparrow falls to the ground. As the time of 
the evening service advanced, Mr. Nicholson expressed a wish that 
Mr. Watson would address the congregation ; and remarked that Luke 
xiii, 4, 5, would form a very appropriate subject of discourse : " Or 
those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, 
think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 
I tell you, nay : but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." 
Mr. Watson acceded to the proposal ; and, with scarcely any time for 
premeditation, delivered to a crowded assembly one of the greatest and 
most impressive sermons ever heard from his lips. The fact is, that 
he possessed such a fulness of information on every subject connected 
with divinity, his thoughts Mowed in such exact order, and he could 
command such a copiousness and power of expression, that he was 
almost constantly prepared to preach on any occasion, however pecu- 
liar and difficult. 

As the spring and summer advanced Mr. Watson's health continued 
to improve ; so that lie was enabled with tolerable frequency to resume 
his labours -in the pulpit ; and at the conference which was held in 
June, he -was appointed again to the Manchester circuit, after an inter- 
val of four years. In the meanwhile the circuit had been divided, so 
as to be confined within narrower limits, and to be more suited to the 
strength of a comparative invalid, than when he was last stationed there. 
In Manchester he was cordially received by his former friends, who 
were strongly attached to him because of his sociable qualities, and his 
extraordinary abilities as a preacher, now greatly improved by increased 
knowledge and piety. Here, as well as in Liverpool, several individuals 
belonging to the Wesleyan connection often availed themselves of his 
ministry, which they warmly admired. It was marked by such intelli- 
gence and originality, such a grasp of thought, such power of argument 
and persuasion, and was withal so evangelical and devotional, as to 
render it exceedingly attractive and edifying to such pious persons as 
were distinguished by taste and knowledge ; yet his congregations in 
general were not large, nor was he remarkably successful in the con- 
version of sinners to God. To him this was often a ground of painful 
discouragement. He cherished an intense desire to be useful; he 
prayed without ceasing, and laboured with all his might to turn men 
from the power of Satan to God ; and often expressed his strong regret, 
in conversation with his intimate friends, that he saw so little fruit of 
his ministry. Some, however, were brought by his instrumentality to 


a serious concern for their spiritual interests ; and were led anxiously to 
inquire, " What must we do to be saved V 

A friend who regularly attended Mr. Watson's ministry at this period 
says, " His preaching was peculiarly grand and prophetic. He seemed 
to look forward to the future success of the Gospel with the most 
triumphant confidence. There was something eminently panoramic and 
military in the scenes which he drew, and the figures he employed to 
illustrate the events which should hereafter occur, in regard to the destruc- 
tion of Christ's enemies, and the spread and influence of his truth. I 
well recollect his delivering a series of discourses from Hebrews xii, 
18-24, which were highly interesting to me at the time. I believe 
the course consisted of seven or eight sermons. His stated congrega- 
tion was small, and did not generally appear duly to appreciate the 
unparalleled excellence of his discourses." 

Mr. Watson was not satisfied with delivering the stated number of 
sermons required of him ; though those sermons were such as few men 
beside himself could preach. He was anxious that the people to whom 
he ministered should understand the Scriptures ; and as he had ad- 
dressed a course of lectures on the Epistle to the Hebrews to his con- 
gregation at Liverpool, so he delivered a similar course, on the week 
clay evenings, upon the Epistle to the Ephesians, in a small chapel 
at Pendleton, near Manchester, to the great pleasure and edification 
of his hearers. His capacious mind delighted to contemplate the 
truths of Divine revelation, in all their richness and amplitude ; 
and the doctrinal epistles of St. Paul were exactly suited to his 
genius, and afforded full scope for the exercise of his judgment and 

Reference has already been made to Mr. Watson's loyalty, and his 
confidence in the existing administration, to which he was very sincerely 
attached ; but his regard for the person and government of the sovereign, 
strong and decided as it was, did not render him indifferent to the liberty 
and rights of the subject. When these were endangered, he was among 
the first to raise the warning voice. Under the laws of religious tole- 
ration, passed in the reign of William and Mary, the persecuting pro- 
pensities of violent men were restrained, the public tranquillity was 
secured, and religion had taken a firmer hold upon the lower and mid- 
dling classes of society than at any former period of the national exist- 
ence. In the year 1811 an attempt was made to innovate upon the 
toleration laws, and seriously to abridge the religious liberty of a large 
portion of the community. The plan was laid with consummate art ; 
and for a season no serious evil was suspected, even by the men from 
whom it was intended to wrest their best and dearest rights. By the 
act of William and Mary all Protestant teachers of religion who took 
the prescribed oaths were placed under the protection of law in their 
public ministrations ; and it was rendered imperative upon the magis- 
trate to administer the oaths whenever the parties made application for 
that purpose. The alteration intended was that of demanding, from 
every one who required a license to preach, a certificate signed by 
" six substantial and reputable householders," specifying his competency 
and- character. The ostensible reasons for this change were, that the 
ignorant and unwary might be guarded against the arts of designing 
men, and that the dissenting ministry might be rendered more respecta- 


ble ; but the real design was, to invest the magistracy with the power 
of refusing licenses at their option : for the terms " reputable" and 
" substantial," applied to the " householders" by whom all applicants 
for licences were to be recommended, were so vague and indefinite, 
that such magistrates as were unfriendly to dissenters could never be 
at a loss for a pretext to justify their refusal to administer the oaths 
whenever they pleased. The magistrate was not made the direct judge 
of the minister who appeared before him ; but he was made the judge 
of the property and character of the certifying " householders ;" and 
this circumstance gave him the power to harass and annoy, to an un- 
limited extent, all the ministers who wished to enjoy the benefit of the 
act of toleration. At the same time, such persons as were not " house- 
holders," — those Avho were poor, and therefore not " substantial," — and 
all who had formerly been immoral in their lives, or who might be 
deemed fanatical, and therefore not " reputable," — were to be at once 
cut off from all hope of obtaining such a ministry as they conscientiously 
preferred, unless it were in accordance with the views of the magistrate, 
or secured to them by persons placed in more favourable circumstances 
than their own. 

This measure was brought into parliament by Lord Viscount Sid- 
mouth, and in the first instance met with considerable encouragement. 
It does not appear that his lordship had any evil design in this measure, 
or fully perceived its practical bearing. He seems rather to have been 
urged on by others, and to have been deceived by some dissenters with 
whom he conversed, and who, like himself, did not see the real charac- 
ter and design of the project. 

While this matter was pending, Mr. Watson's acquaintance with the 
Rev. Jabez Bunting commenced. They had both been preaching at 
Stockport one Sunday, and met on their way to Manchester in the even- 
ing ; when Lord Sidmouth's bill became the principal subject of con- 
versation. They both acknowledged, that, if this bill were to pass into 
a law, it would be ruinous to the Methodists, whose ministry is itine- 
rant ; and that it would be very injurious in its operation upon the dis- 
senters generally. The meeting of these two eminent men appeared 
to be casual ; but subsequent events proved it to be one of those provi- 
dential arrangements which forcibly impress every devout and obser- 
vant mind. Their interview led to a pure and lasting friendship, from 
which great advantage Avas derived, both to themselves, and to the cause 
of religion. Little did they then imagine that, in future years, they 
should be successfully associated together in plans of extensive useful- 
ness, and especially in the furtherance of the missionary cause. At 
Mr. Bunting's request, Mr. Watson immediately wrote the following 
letter, which appeared in the " Manchester Exchange Herald," of May 
23d, 1811. It is worth preserving, for the excellent sentiments it con- 
tains, as well as a specimen of his elegant and forcible diction at that 
period of his life. In assuming the name of "A Protestant Dissenter," 
he used that term in its popular sense, as the designation of one who 
was not in immediate connection with the established Church ; not 
that he had any conscientious objections against a religious establish- 
ment, as such, as he distinctly declares, or any scruples as to the law- 
fulness of uniting in the public services of the Church of England. — 
At that time the dissenters were not duly alive to the evils with which 


this measure was fraught ; and a strong statement of the case was 
deemed necessary to rouse their opposition. 

To the Protestant Dissenters of Manchester and its vicinity. 

Gentlemen, — A bill having been brought into parliament by Lord 
Viscount Sidmouth, for the ostensible purpose of explaining and amend- 
ing the act of toleration, but which, in reality, infringes that important 
statute, both in its principle and application, your interest and rights, 
the welfare of your respective Churches, the purity of your characters, 
and every motive which can influence the man or the Protestant, de- 
mand your deepest attention to so bold and sweeping an incursion upon 
the religious freedom you have so long and so peaceably enjoyed. 

The partial manner in which this bill was explained by his lordship, 
both in private communications, and at its first reading in the house of 
lords, prevented an earlier opposition. It is, however, now before us ; 
and the most cursory perusal is sufficient to show that no measure 
short of the absolute repeal of the act of toleration itself could 
demand on the part of the dissenters so^ strong and decided a 

Had his lordship contented himself with his professed object, 
namely, to prevent impositions upon the quarter sessions, and the abuse 
of licenses, in obtaining exemptions from civil offices by persons not 
wholly devoted to the ministry, no material objection could have been 
urged against the bill, except that his lordship had not made out a case 
sufficiently strong to warrant the legislative interference. Yet this 
alone was first understood to be his object. A deputation who waited 
upon his lordship so understood him ; and on this ground, as they had 
nothing to urge against a measure so limited, his lordship might fairly 
state in the house of lords, that some of the most eminent dissenters, 
with whom he had conferred, had made no objection to his bill. The 
fact is, they knew not its extent. They might see little to object in 
requiring six householders to certify that the person applying for a 
license was bona fide a preacher, and an approved person ; but the 
printed bill materially alters the case, when it requires-these six house- 
holders to be substantial and reputable persons ; for as these terms con- 
vey no positive and specific idea, and as the magistrate alone must be 
judge, where is the security that numberless vexatious exceptions may 
not be taken, and that the obtaining of a license, especially from a 
bench of clerical justices, may not become an affair of the utmost 
trouble and difficulty. No dissenter could agree to this ; and much 
less could he allow, with the bill, the right of the civil magistrate to fix 
the time for which the candidate for a license must be known to those 
who attest his character, because this would be to allow a civil inter- 
ference in the appointment of ministers, and to give up an essential and 
fundamental principle of dissent. 

Vexatious, however, as the proposed mode of obtaining licenses 
would be, as it would render every candidate the sport of caprice or 
bigotry; and degrading as are the formal and solemn provisions of 
Lord Sidmouth's bill against collusion, as though the dissenting minis- 
ters were men of such deep design and ability in fraud, that oaths, 
declarations, and witnesses must fence them on every side : bad as the 
bill is in these repects, we have not yet reached the apex of injury and 


folly. It absolutely repeals a number of the provisions of the toleration 
act, in relation to the great body of itinerant dissenting ministers, and 
renders them liable to the ballot, and all parochial offices. It goes to 
destroy the veiy existence of a large and useful class of subordinate 
teachers, who, though engaged in business, devote the Sabbath to the 
supply of different congregations, and to the general religious instruc- 
tion of their fellow creatures ; inasmuch as it is not possible, under 
this bill, for them to obtain a license by any means. It must rekindle 
the flames of persecution, for conscience would, in many cases, compel 
them to disobey the law, were it to take effect; and we should behold, 
even in this age of freedom and liberality, our prisons filled with the 
victims of an incautious aggression upon the rights of conscience. 
Nor is this the extent of the injury. It also violates the rights of pro- 
perty ; because many places of worship, especially those belonging to 
the Wesleyan Methodists, being deprived of their present supply of 
ministers, must lose their value, and sink with the whole weight of 
their respective debts upon the shoulders of the trustees. 

Against a bill fraught with evils of this magnitude, it is highly requi- 
site that, without delay, 'Ave should resort to our constitutional right of 
petitioning. Its injuries are not greater than its follies ; but follies are 
dangerous. The veriest novice in politics, a lad just started out of his 
minority, could scarcely, in his haste to distinguish himself as a poli- 
tician, have stumbled upon an idea so mischievous ; upon a measure 
whose direct tendency is to inflame religious animosity, at a time when 
the body politic ought to be compacted together in the strongest bonds, 
and animated with one spirit of fraternity and patriotism. If any thing 
can add to the folly, it is, that this attempt to curtail the rights of Pro- 
testant dissenters is made at a time when the demands of the Catholics 
are urged in so loud a tone, and are acquiring so extensive a support. 
If such hopes are held out to the Catholics, must the Protestant dissenters 
be driven out of the pale of the constitution, harassed and degraded ? 
Have we refrained from urging claims, as substantial, surely, as those 
of the Catholics, from teazing the government from year to year, from 
the menace and activity of factious restlessness, — only to have our 
moderation construed into cowardice and tameness ? only to encourage 
the enemies of our privileges, and the enviers of our growing prosperity, 
to make an experiment upon our patience 1 And are we to learn from 
Lord Sidmouth's conduct, that the only means of maintaining our 
lowest privileges is to urge the highest claims with petulance and 
audacity 1 Will the ministry thank him for the hint he has given us ? 

But "the Church is in danger." This, I suppose, is the true source 
of the bill ; and for this very reason we ought to petition, and in our 
petitions to show that from whatever quarter the Church is endangered, 
it is not endangered from Protestant dissenters. We are no enemies of 
the Church. We respect an establishment whose annals are adorned 
with the records of martyrs, confessors, witnesses, venerable names of 
piety and learning. The veriest bigot among us would leap with rap- 
ture to hear of her pulpits being filled with men of the same spirit as 
the compilers of her liturgy, and the writers of her articles. But the 
Church is in danger. It is in danger from infidelity, from luxury, from 
the vices of a pampered state of society, from the sloth and immorality, 
the gross immorality of many of her ministers. Here is the true dan- 


ger of the Church. But it is much more convenient for pluralists and 
non-residents, men who are determined neither to amend their doc- 
trines nor their lives, to persuade Lord Sidmouth that it is not they 
themselves who drive the people from the Church, but that dissenters 
seduce them. 

Those of you, gentlemen, who have had the opportunity of perusing 
the bill in question, need not be told that it is necessary for the dis- 
senters of this town to make an immediate application to parliament 
to prevent it from passing into law. On that subject there is no differ- 
ence of opinion. Suffer me, however, to press the necessity of prompt 
exertions. The bill has been read a second time; and if it is not 
stifled in the house of lords, the chance of its passing the commons is 
increased. A general meeting is certainly the most eligible mode of 
procedure, in order to frame resolutions expressive of our opinions, and 
to propose a form of petition. To-morrow, at farthest, ought to be 
fixed on as the day of meeting, that the petitions may lie in the dif- 
ferent places of worship on the Sunday following for signatures. 

Let us petition ; and let us petition in a manly spirit. Let us go to 
the house of peers, and tell Lord Sidmouth that we love our venera- 
ble sovereign as fervently as any of his subjects ; that we are as con- 
stitutional in our politics as his lordship himself; that, so far from 
deserving the frowns of the legislature, we merit its encouragement ; 
that, but for the efforts of dissenters, the lowest classes in many 
manufacturing districts would have sunk into intellectual and religious 
barbarism ; that in sobriety, industry, loyalty, benevolence, and every 
character of men, Christians, and patriots, the Protestant dissenters will 
yield the palm of preference to none ; that they have ever been thank- 
ful for their privileges, and in no circumstances have abused them ; 
and that, for the legislature to curtail them, under such circumstances, 
would be to inflict a punishment where no crime is alleged. 

A Protestant Dissenter, 

What effect this letter produced upon the persons to whom it was 
immediately addressed, we know not ; but the sound and practical view 
of the subject which Mr. Watson entertained was taken by the leading 
members of the Methodist and dissenting bodies, who called upon their 
respective communities throughout the kingdom to petition the legislature 
against this most obnoxious bill. In a few days the nation was in a fer- 
ment. Petitions in unexampled numbers were poured into parliament ; 
and the authors of the measure were glad to withdraw it from the public 
attention, alleging that their designs were misunderstood. Some eminent 
personages in the established Church, with a most honourable liberality, 
expressed their disapprobation of the measure, when its real character 
was ascertained ; and the archbishop of Canterbury delivered an 
admirable speech in the house of lords in favour of religious toleration ; 
in which he also advised Lord Sidmouth to withdraw the obnoxious 
measure then before parliament. It is a natural consequence of such 
injudicious attempts at legislation, that they promote the cause which 
they are meant to suppress. The attention of those classes of his 
majesty's subjects who enjoyed the benefit of the act of toleration was 
directed to that important statute ; and it was found to be inadequate 
to meet the exigencies of the times. Application was therefore made 


to the legislature for another act, more specific and comprehensive in 
its provisions, which was readily conceded ; so that the attempt to 
narrow the religious liberty which the dissenters and Methodists 
enjoyed led to its greater extension ; and the rights of conscience 
claimed by these people were more distinctly recognized by the legis- 
lature, and more effectually secured, than they had ever previously 
been. The excellent men who were concerned in drawing up the 
new toleration law contemplated its ultimate application to the various 
colonies of the empire ; and the act of parliament by which colonial 
slavery is abolished extends the benefits of this law to all the colonies 
where persecuting enactments had previously existed, and leaves 
nothing more to be desired in regard to liberty of conscience. Few 
things would have afforded Mr. Watson a richer gratification than to 
see religious liberty, in connection with civil freedom, secured by law 
to the negroes in the West India islands ; called as he often was to 
sympathize with that degraded people under their persecutions and 
wrongs. But he finished his course before this glorious consumma- 
tion was achieved by British justice and mercy. 

At the conference which was held in June, 1811, Mr. Watson was 
again appointed to the office of secretary, and was returned a second 
year to the Manchester circuit ; but the annual address to the societies, 
as in former instances when he was secretary, was not written by him. 
This is easily ascertained by internal evidence. He had not spent 
many months in the second year of his appointment to Manchester 
before his health again failed him. The bleeding of his lungs returned ; 
he was unable to discharge the full duties of his office ; there was little 
probability that he would ever be able permanently to endure the labours 
of an itinerant ministry ; and as he had long been dissatisfied with the 
discipline of the Methodist new connection, and therefore in some 
degree unhappy in his union with that body, he tendered his resignation 
to the authorities in the circuit, and removed to Liverpool ; where, after 
the lapse of a few months, he offered himself as a private member of society 
in the Wesleyan connection. Being providentially laid aside from his 
public ministry, and scarcely able to preach at all, he engaged himself 
at an annual salary to his friend Mr. Kaye, as the editor of the Liver- 
pool Courier, and for other literary services. In retiring from the 
new connection Mr. Watson acted in accordance with the advice of 
some of his most intelligent and confidential friends belonging to that 
body, who thought that, with his views, he was likely to be both more 
happy and useful among his old associates, from whom he had for- 
merly departed under the pressure of unkind treatment and of strong 

Mr. Watson's retirement from the Methodist new connection excited 
no surprise among those of his brethren who were intimate with him, 
and enjoyed his confidence ; for they knew that it was the result of a 
serious and long- cherished conviction: and the manner in which he 
retired was every way worthy of his honourable mind. He had 
accepted an invitation to become a preacher in that connection when he 
was exceedingly anxious to enter again upon the regular duties of the 
Christian ministry, when every other door appeared to be closed against 
him, and when he had formed no settled opinions concerning Church 
government. The discipline of the new connection, when he was first 


made acquainted with it, appears to have commanded his approbation ; 
but when he saw the practical workings of the system, his views were 
changed, and it became in an increasing degree an object of his con- 
scientious dislike. When he was unable to fulfil the duties of his 
ministry, he availed himself of the opportunity to retire from the body ; 
but he made no attempt to disturb the tranquillity of the societies with 
which he was connected, or to influence any individual to follow his 
example. It was not with his brethren that he was dissatisfied, but with 
the system ; and hence, after his secession, his affection for them suf- 
fered no abatement. This, indeed, might be expected from a man of 
his generous and upright character. Tbey had received him into then- 
body when he was in a great measure friendless and an outcast ; they 
proposed to him on his admission no questions respecting his views of 
Church government, — a subject to which his attention had never been 
seriously directed ; and through the entire period of his union with 
them they had treated him with unmixed kindness and respect. They 
had placed him in almost every office of trust and honour, except that 
of president of the conference ; appointments had been selected for 
him adapted to his delicate health ; and he had never been forced into 
the more extensive and laborious circuits in which many of his bre- 
thren toiled in the midst of great hardships and privations. It would 
be easy to enter into detail on the subject of Mr. Watson's dissatis- 
faction with the plan and order of the Methodist new connection ; but 
this, it is conceived, is not necessary, and in this place would not be 
in good taste. After his return to the Wesleyan body he rarely 
adverted to this subject in his intercourse even with his most intimate 
friends ; he never mentioned it in the spirit of angry vituperation ; and 
the recital of his reasons might give pain to men whom he esteemed 
and loved as his brethren in Christ, and to whom he was under no 
common obligations. 

When Mr. Watson left the new connection, so far was he from 
" seeking great things" of a worldly nature for "himself," that he was 
thrown entirely upon the care of Divine Providence ; for he had made 
no arrangements whatever for admission into the Wesleyan itinerancy. 
Had his health been good, it was uncertain whether the Wesleyan 
conference would receive him ; and there was little probability that a 
sickly man, with a wife and two children, — a man bearing marks of 
consumption and decay, — could be so admitted as to have for himself 
and his family a permanent claim upon the funds of the connection. — 
In taking this important step, therefore, secular motives were out of 
the question. He resigned a certain income for that which was con- 
tingent. His prospects in regard to temporal things were dark and 
unpromising ; but a wise and merciful Providence was guiding him 
into paths of usefulness of which neither he nor his friends had any 
conception. He obeyed the dictates of his understanding and con- 
science, in the simplicity and integrity of his heart, trusting in God ; 
and in the subsequent years of his life the immensely important ser- 
vices which he was called to render the cause of Christianity both at 
home and abroad, and the wonderful success with which it pleased the 
Head of the Church to crown his pious exertions, demonstrate that 
he followed the right course. In reference to his intended return to 
the Wesleyan body, he was often heard to say, " If I have once done 


wrong, I ought fearlessly, as to the opinion of others, to do that which I 
now believe to be right." It has been stated that, before this time, he 
engaged in some commercial speculations in South America, by the 
failure of which he was involved in pecuniary difficulties ; but there is 
no truth whatever in this report. Like his Lord, and many of his 
brethren, at this period of his life he had no property to lose ; and his 
pure and inquiring mind was directed to higher objects than the accu- 
mulation of wealth. 

The following letters which were addressed by Mr. Watson to one 
of his friends in Manchester, who still remained in the Methodist new 
connection, will show the kind and affectionate spirit which he conti- 
nued to cherish toward individuals belonging to that body, and the 
Christian temper in which he had resigned his office in that commu- 
nity. The first is not dated; but both were written within a few 
months of his removal to Liverpool. 

To Mr Absalom Watkin, Manchester. 

My Very Dear Brother, — A variety of causes, which it would be 
of no use to communicate, have prevented me from writing to you 
sooner. You have, however, heard of my improved state of health 
through our common friend, Mr. Makinson ; as by his letter, and the 
visit of Mr. Shuttleworth, I have had some tidings of you. That you 
are seriously devoted to botany, appears from your having commenced 
a teacher of the science to some of your friends ; and that chemistry 
has still its place, I may conclude from your quality of industry and 
application ; though I know not that you studied it con amore : at least, 
I suspect that calixes, pistils, stamens, and blossoms, had a stronger 
hold upon your taste than earths, acids, alkalies, and salts ; and that 
carbon organized in the forms of plants, was more taking than the 
carbon of the laboratory or the rudiments. I give you joy in the 
contemplation of man in the discrete, decomposed and separated into 
his osteological, sarcological,myological, splanchological, angeiological, 
neurological, and adenological parts ; terms and things with which you 
are now acquainted. I wish I had been with you at the lectures ; but 
as you have discovered the existence and use of the indicator digitalis, 
— I think they call it, but I am not sure, — in the human hand, I hope 
that it has a corresponding faculty in your and Mr. M.'s mind, to point 
out to my ignorance the leading features of the science when I see you 
at Whitsuntide. 

A perishing body, however, does not, I am persuaded, interest you 
so much as the perishing souls of men; and I trust by this time you 
have got your spirits sufficiently roused to action, as to engage again 
in that good work for which I am persuaded God hath both designed 
you, and has been preparing you, though by a course of severe disci- 
pline. I have heard of your acting as precentor ; and I hope to hear 
of your having assumed the teacher. May you be both happy in the 
work, and successful by it ! 

To be useful, we must be faithful. If we give, we must receive.— 
From an empty vessel none can drink ; and a full one would soon 
become empty without supplies. " I will bless thee," said Jehovah to- 
Abraham, " and thou shalt be a blessing." Let us then attend to 
personal piety, as the rock of our own souls, and active agents in pro- 


moting the good of others ; and let studies, friendships, books, and 
pleasures, be all regulated by this end. " Let us," says good Mr. 
Baxter, " esteem the creature only as it comes from God, or brings 
some report of his love." 

I have been greatly pleased in reading Dr. Isaac Barrow's theolo- 
gical works. He writes philosophy like a divine ; and divinity like a 
philosopher. He paints morality with as elegant a pencil as Blair, 
allowing for the style of the age ; and he has yet the evangelical 
views of Baxter ; but he is not so practical, nor so hortatory. 

Looking forward to Whitsuntide with great pleasure, if it please 
God to spare me in good health, I am, with affectionate remembrance 
to Mr. Makinson, yours sincerely. 

To the Same. 

Liverpool, July 3d, 1812. 

My Very Dear Friend, — Had you favoured me with a statement 
of the doubts of which you complain, I might have attempted to remove 
them ; though the attempt would have had in it more of friendship than 
ability. As you have not, I can only glance at the subject generally. 
I will, however, notice first your query as to the writers mentioned by 
Paley. The paraphrase of Clarke has, doubtless, some of the peculiar 
excellencies of that great man ; but to me a paraphrase is the most 
unsatisfactory mode of exposition. You have much sacrificed to the 
rhythm of the sentence ; and words of no very definite meaning are 
often resorted to, to fill up the measure. A text has not unaptly been 
compared to milk ; a paraphrase, to milk and water. Clarke, however, 
gives the narrative in neat language, has some happy expositions of 
passages ; but loses, as I think, the true spirit of many more ; and 
cannot be greatly desirable to a person who possesses Campbell and 
Macknight. With Collier I am unacquainted ; but Taylor's " Key" 
opens the wrong door. You may conceive how an Arian, of a con- 
firmed class, would explain the doctrine of justification by faith in a 
vicarious sacrifice, which is the subject of the Apostle Paul's discussion 
in the Epistle to the Romans. That there are many useful things in 
that work, cannot but be the case ; for Taylor had both a vigorous and 
a cultivated mind ; but he puzzles what is sufficiently difficult. I de- 
spair of meeting with a solution of every difficult passage in that 
epistle ; but should I be so fortunate, it will not, I am persuaded, be 
from lights obtained from the author of the " Key to the Romans." 

" He that never doubted never believed," says one ; and if previous 
doubts give an energy to faith, you, I trust, will be a strong believer. 
Doubts on the doctrines of our religion are of two kinds : doubts which 
respect the doctrines themselves ; and doubts which relate to their 
minuter details ; or, as you study logic, doubts either as to the sub- 
stance, or the mode ; speaking in some sense figuratively. For in- 
stance : a person may admit the doctrine of atonement ; and doubt as 
to the quality of the sacrifice, or the extent of its benefits, or the con- 
ditions of its application. With doubts of the first kind you have hap- 
pily little to do ; perhaps not much with those of the second ; and your 
doubts may rather be an indistinctness of conception, than a refusal of 
assent. That it is infinitely desirable to possess a luminous concep- 
tion of the dictates of eternal truth, is indisputable. " Grow in grace, 


and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," is the 
injunction of an apostle. Two considerations ought, however, to pre- 
vent such an indistinctness of conception from distressing us, though 
none are to be assigned why it should not humble us. The first is, 
that clearness beyond the fact that such is the mind of the Holy Spirit, 
in many of his revealed doctrines, is not to be expected. We see them 
but as the sun through a mist. We doubt not the fact of his appearance, 
though we cannot define the object. It is radiance mixed and muddy ; 
but it is still a glory above that of the moon and stars, — the lesser 
luminaries of human science. The fog is not around the luminary, 
except in our eye ; he shines bright and unclouded in his native hea- 
ven. So it is not the doctrines of Christ which are dim, but the 
atmosphere of our understandings. That a human mind should labour 
when the " judgments," the thoughts of an infinite mind are revealed, 
is not surprising ; they are subjects which " angels desire to look into," 
and which are to exercise the faculties of glorified humanity for ever. 
If that be to doubt, we doubt as angels do. But, to pursue my figure : 
what benighted traveller is there who would not rejoice in the return 
of day, though it should not bring " a morning without clouds ?" 

The second consideration is, that much of our present confusion of 
apprehension will give way before investigation, provided it be conducted 
in prayer, and with a disposition to do the will of God. " If any man 
will do his will," says our Lord, " he shall know of the doctrine, whether 
it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." How incomplete were 
your views, some time ago, of the economy of the human frame ! But 
the lectures you have heard have taken you, step by step, into all the 
arcana of anatomy. Let us begin any science whatever, and insupera- 
ble difficulties seem to start up to forbid a future approach ; but they 
are overcome by patient labour. Let not the undergraduate grieve that 
he has not the knowledge of the doctor ; the doctor was once an under- 
graduate : and let him rather believe his improvement possible, and ply 
his task, than throw away his books in pettishness, dissatisfied that he 
knows not that by intuition which God hath made to depend upon com- 
parison and induction. 

Suffer me, however, a little farther. We venerate Bacon and Boyle, 
the fathers of the experimental philosophy ; we are disciples of Newton 
and of Davy, because they are experimentalists ; we give up the system 
builders, who form the foundation and the superstructure both out of the 
figments of their own fancy. Let us not be less philosophers in reli- 
gion. Take the test of experiment here. What doctrines or interpre- 
tations bring us nearest to God, satisfy the cravings of sanctified desire 
most fully, ameliorate the heart, inspire devotion, and amend the life, 
in the highest degree 1 Here is the true rule of interpretation ; and its 
application operates in two ways ; and each in our favour. It is satis- 
factory, as the proof of all we know ; for that only we know in religion 
which we prove in application : and it strengthens the intellectual 
powers, wings them for new flights, and directs the flight itself. In 
proportion as we are renewed in the image of God, we are " renewed 
in knowledge," — one part of the image of " the only wise God." 

Excuse inaccuracies : I have not time to revise what I have written. 

Enclosed is a portion of the sand thrown out of the volcano at St. 
Vincent's ; and which fell upon the decks of a vessel lying at Barbadoes, 


now in Liverpool. It is my whole stock ; and you may divide it with 
Mr. Makinson. 

Mrs. Watson sends her best thanks for Baxter ; I, mine for the 
" Arcadia." 

While these letters display an affectionate interest in the mental and 
spiritual improvement of his correspondents, they demonstrate that Mr. 
Watson had not separated from his friends with any hostile feelings ; 
and that they still regarded him with affection and confidence. We 
shall find the same kind and improving correspondence carried on after 
his appointment to a circuit as an itinerant Wesleyan minister. 


Mr. Watson returns to the Wesleyan Itinerancy — Appointed to the Wakefield 
Circuit — Character of his Preaching — Assists at the re-opening of the Methodist 
Chapel at Halifax — Letter to his dying Father — Letter to Mr. Makinson — Preaches 
at the opening of a new Chapel at Armley — Letter to Mr. Makinson — Matthew 
Shackleton — Letters to Mr. Watkin — Outline of a Sermon on the Trial of Faith. 

When Mr. Watson became a private member of the Wesleyan 
society in Liverpool, he attended the weekly meetings of his class 
with exemplary diligence, and was a pattern at once of piety and con- 
formity to rule. On his admission into the society he remarked, with 
deep feeling, that for the first time during the last eleven years his 
mind was then fully at rest. He was soon accepted as a local 
preacher ; and as his general health improved, and the bleeding of his 
lungs subsided, he occasionally occupied the Wesleyan pulpits, both 
in Liverpool and the surrounding country ; and his preaching was 
universally admired. With the ministers then stationed in Liverpool, 
— the Rev. Messrs. Entwisle, West, Gaulter, and Buckley, — he had 
frequent intercourse ; they heard him preach ; and were compelled, in 
an equal degree, to admire the strength and elegance of his mind, his 
devotional spirit, and sound theological principles. He had little hope 
of ever being able again to resume his itinerant labours, when he set- 
tled in Liverpool ; but those who knew him best were assured that if 
his health should in any competent degree be restored, he would 
again fully devote himself to the Christian ministry. This he felt to 
be his special calling ; and no pleasure was equal to that which he 
experienced in preaching Christ and him crucified. Perceiving that 
he was eminently qualified for extensive usefulness, the ministers just 
mentioned united in requesting him to offer himself to the conference, 
and again to take his place in the Wesleyan itinerancy. Mr. Bunt- 
ing, who had been previously acquainted with him, and well knew his 
worth, visited Liverpool at the time, and earnestly joined in the solici- 
tation. Mr. Watson at length consented, and was recommended to the 
district meeting, and afterward to the conference, by whom he was very 
cordially received. The practical errors of his youth were buried in 
oblivion ; the men who had formerly taken part against him, and had 
unhappily been a means of separating him from the connection, utter- 
ed not a word against his re-admission ; for his character, both as a 
man of God, and a good minister of Jesus Christ, was established ; 


and without subjecting him to any farther probation, he was placed 
precisely in the circumstances in which he stood, when, eleven years 
before, he left his work in the Hinckley circuit. In surrendering 
himself to the disposal of the conference, Mr. Watson greatly disap- 
pointed the hopes of his friend Mr. Kaye, who calculated upon his 
valuable literary labours ; and he was far from consulting his own 
secular advantage. Considering his extraordinary powers as a writer, 
he might, according to all human probability, have realized property 
to a considerable amount, had he devoted his exclusive attention to 
literature. Overtures of a very flattering nature were made to him at 
this crisis by persons in authority, if he would remove to London, and 
employ his pen in the public service ; but his Lord called him to 
labour in the word and doctrine ; and he had felt too severely the con- 
sequences of disobedience to that voice in his earlier years, to hesitate 
for one moment whether he should devote his life to the Christian 
ministry, or to any other pursuit, when his strength was adequate to 
the task. Never did the Wesleyan conference receive into its com- 
munion a minister of greater and more useful talents, or of more sound 
and enlightened piety ; and never was a Methodist preacher more 
ardently attached to his brethren, and to the doctrines and order of the 
body, than Mr. Watson, from the time of his re-admission in the year 
1812, to the end of his days. 

The following notices concerning his reunion with the Wesleyan 
body are supplied by the Rev. Messrs. Entwisle and Buckley. The 
former of these esteemed ministers says, " Soon after his re-admission 
into our society, I prevailed on him to preach in my stead at Mount- 
Pleasant chapel, Liverpool. His text was, Psalm xii, 6 : ' The words 
of the Lord are pure words : as silver tried in a furnace of earth, puri- 
fied seven times.' The depth and originality of thought displayed in 
this sermon, combined with an elevated style, Christian simplicity, and 
perspicuity, accompanied by his usual solemnity of manner and Divine 
unction, deeply impressed my mind ; while I was favoured with such 
views of 'the words of the Lord' as I never had before. Perceiving 
that his health improved, and persuaded that his weight of talent and 
deep piety would render him an acquisition to our connection, and a 
blessing to the world, I proposed to him to allow me to recommend him 
to the ensuing conference, my worthy colleagues, Messrs. Gaulter, West, 
and Buckley, concurring with me in judgment. After due delibera- 
tion and prayer he consented to my proposal. I reflect on this event 
with pleasure ; and thank God that I was in any degree instrumental 
in restoring to our body one who has been so eminently useful." 

" Of the purity of his motives, and the integrity of his heart, in the 
arrangements connected with his return to our itinerancy," says Mr. 
Buckley, " perhaps no one could have a more perfect knowledge, or 
be a more impartial judge, than myself; the event passing under my 
immediate and minute observation, and being not unfrequently the sub- 
ject of the most unreserved conversation." 

When Mr. Watson was received by the conference, he was appoint- 
ed to the Wakefield circuit, under the superintendency of his friend, 
the Rev. James Buckley, who had moved his acceptance in the con- 
ference. With as little delay as possible he repaired to his appoint- 
ment, and entered upon his labours The situation in which he was 


now placed was in perfect accordance with his conscientious convic- 
tions, and his youthful habits The recollection of his early and joyous 
labours as an itinerant preacher occurred to his mind with a delightful 
freshness and power to which he had long been a stranger ; and he 
discharged his official duties with superior fidelity and affection ; while 
his intelligence and social temper endeared him to all who enjoyed his 
friendship. He was specially intimate with some families in Wakefield ; 
and their admiration of his virtues and attachment to his person were 
unbounded, and continued without any abatement to the end of his life. 

What he was as a colleague and a preacher at this period, the fol- 
lowing statements by Mr. Buckley declare : — " We entered upon our 
work with much cordiality and affection ; and met together every 
Saturday, to review the occurrences of the past week, and devise 
measures in relation to the future ; uniting in prayer for Divine direc- 
tion, and the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, that the word of 
the Lord might have free course and be glorified. These meetings 
were attended with many advantages ; affording assistance in the 
choice of subjects, and in our preparations for the pulpit ; in carrying 
plans of discipline into practical effect ; and greatly tending to promote 
the unity of the Spirit. I had occasionally an opportunity of hearing 
my friend preach. His sermons were not always what are called 
great ; greatness appeared to bend to the profit of a particular class of 
his hearers ; yet that might be said of every one of his sermons which 
a Scottish professor once said of a discourse delivered by Mr. Wesley : 
' If it was not a masterly sermon, none but a master could have 
preached it.' There appeared in him occasionally an energy which 
was capable of the most lofty flights. His style appeared to me to be 
correct, energetic, chaste, and harmonious ; his manner was grave and 
solemn, such as becomes the pulpit ; his subjects were well chosen, 
being generally the great doctrines of the Gospel, which he supported 
by cogent and irrefragable arguments, and adorned and illustrated by 
elegant and choice metaphors ; the whole flowing from a heart sancti- 
fied by the grace and truth of God. His ministry, however, did not at 
first attract that attention in the Wakefield circuit which might have been 
expected, and which it so justly deserved, except among the more dis- 
cerning and intelligent persons belonging to the several congregations." 

It was in the autumn of the year 1812, and soon after Mr. Watson's 
arrival in the Wakefield circuit, that the writer of this narrative became 
acquainted with him. He came to Halifax, to preach at the re-open- 
ing of the Methodist chapel in that town, after it had undergone con- 
siderable enlargement, which had been rendered necessary principally 
in consequence of the very efficient ministry of Mr. Bunting then 
stationed there. The writer had often heard him mentioned, as a man 
of very extraordinary talents, but he had no adequate conception of the 
greatness of his powers as a Christian preacher. He went to hear 
him at Halifax on the Sunday evening ; and the impression made upon 
his mind by that sermon will never be effaced. More than twenty 
years have elapsed since its delivery ; but the recollection of it is 
as distinct and vivid as ever. It displayed such a grasp of thought, a 
force of reasoning, and splendour of illustration, and at the same time 
was so rich in Christian sentiment and pious feeling, as to produce 
an almost overwhelming sensation of wonder and delight. With the 


truths which were then inculcated he had long been familiar ; but they 
were placed by Mr. Watson in a light so new and striking, and en- 
forced by an array of argument so powerful and convincing, and pre- 
sented in a garb so beautiful and attractive, as to awaken a class of 
feelings of which the hearer seemed to have been previously uncon- 
scious. The sermon was the loftiest display of intellect and eloquence 
he had ever witnessed. The text was, " The children which thou shalt 

have shall say again in thine ears, The place is too strait for me ; 

give place to me that I may dwell," Isa. xlix, 20 ; and the subject of the 
discourse was the enlargement of the Christian Church. After stating 
the nature of that enlargement, and showing that it consists in the ac- 
cession to the body of believers of individuals converted from the 
error of their way, saved from sin by faith in Jesus Christ, and made 
spiritual worshippers of God, he proceeded to speak of the enlarge- 
ment of the Church in three distinct views : as the fulfilment of pro- 
phecy, — a proof that there is a Divine agency at work in the earth, — 
and a source of joy to good men. On the subject of that Divine influ- 
ence by which the Gospel is rendered the instrument of salvation, and 
men are made new creatures, his remarks were particularly valuable 
and striking. He combatted the reasonings of Gibbon, who attempted 
to account for the early propagation of Christianity, by merely second 
causes ; and characterized that celebrated skeptic as " eloquent in 
error." In proving the reality of the influence in question, he argued 
from that uniformity by which all Christian conversions are distinguish- 
ed. Under whatever circumstances men are converted to the religion 
of Christ, and in whatever part of the world, though their feelings may 
vary in intensity, those feelings are substantially the same. In all 
genuine converts there is the same hatred to sin, the same penitential 
sorrow, the same desire after pardon and purity, the same absolute re- 
liance upon the sacrifice of Christ, the same love to God and man, 
the same delight in devotion, indifference to the world, careful avoid- 
ance of sin, and hope of a blessed immortality. The perfect same- 
ness of the work, he contended, demonstrates the oneness of the 
agent by whom it is accomplished ; and the holy and beneficial nature 
of the work proves that its author is Divine. He remarked, farther, 
that the enlargement of the Church always takes place in connection 
with the inculcation of a certain set of doctrines ; such as the fall of 
man, the atonement of Christ, justification by faith, regeneration by 
the power of the Holy Ghost, and the necessity of personal holiness. 
When these doctrines are faithfully and prayerfully enforced in the 
Christian pulpit, the Church is enlarged ; when they are denied, or 
withheld from the people, by those who minister in holy things, the 
Church is either stationary, or declines both in spirituality and num- 
ber. No open sinners, in cases of this nature, are brought to repent- 
ance ; no broken heart is healed by the consolations of pardon ; and 
no persons of profligate character are sanctified to God. The Holy 
Spirit sets his seal to " the truth as it is in Jesus," and makes it the 
effectual means of salvation ; but he will not put the same honour upon 
the powerless reasonings of the mere apostles of moral virtue, with 
whatever elegance of diction they may be enforced. It is only the 
doctrine of "Christ crucified" that is "the wisdom of God, and the 
power of God." " Suppose a piece of very complex machinery sub- 


mitted to your inspection," said Mr. Watson, " the nature and construc- 
tion of which you are unable to comprehend. Should you see a certain 
pressure applied to a particular part, and then perceive that the whole 
was immediately put into beautiful and harmonious motion ; when that 
pressure was withdrawn, were the motion instantly to cease, and were the 
same results invariably to take place whenever the experiments were 
repeated, you would, of course, infer that the motion depended upon that 
particular pressure." From this illustration he took occasion to show 
the established connection which subsists between a truly evangelical 
ministry, and those spiritual and moral results which it is the great 
end of Christianity to produce ; a connection which is demonstrated 
by the entire history of the Christian Church, and especially by every 
revival of true religion. It was manifest that a man who could deliver 
such a sermon as this, was eminently qualified to instruct the world 
through the medium of the press ; and in a conversation with him 
after the conclusion of the service, the writer inquired of him whether 
he had ever turned his attention to authorship ; and Mr. Watson an- 
swered, " I have never published any thing of consequence, except a 
political pamphlet in reply to Mr. Roscoe, of Liverpool, nor have I the 
slightest wish to be distinguished as an author. That is a subject to 
which my thoughts have never been directed." 

The conclusion of this year was to Mr. Watson a season of solemn 
interest. His father, who then resided at Nottingham, had arrived at 
the age of three-score years and ten, and was labouring under a drop- 
sical complaint, the fatal termination of which was daily expected. 
Mr. Watson's own health was so extremely delicate, that he was unable 
to visit his dying parent ; and indeed it appeared to be sometimes a 
matter of doubt whether the son would not first enter into the world 
of spirits. In this enfeebled and precarious state, suspended between 
life and death, and uncertain which scale would preponderate, he 
addressed the following letter to his afflicted father. It displays in a 
very striking light the strength of his filial affection, and his intense 
solicitude for the spiritual interests of one so nearly related to him. 

Wakefield, Nov. 12th, 1812. 

My Dearest Father, — After having had many anxious thoughts 
concerning you, I was just sitting down to write to you when I received 
my sister's letter. I notice in it your desire to see me ; and be 
assured that I am anxious also to see you ; and if I can do so, I will. 
Our confinement in the circuit is, however, great ; and I am very unfit 
for a journey, owing to my remaining very poorly ; being subject to 
sudden bilious attacks, so that sometimes I know not but I may even 
escape before you into the world of spirits. 

For myself, afflictions have been good, very good for me ; and I 
bless God for them. He corrects like a father ; and severe diseases 
require severe remedies. Happy for us, if the Divine Physician does 
not administer in vain! I have not forgotten you at a throne of 
grace. Every time I bow my knees I entreat God to bestow his support- 
ing, saving, and comforting grace upon my dear parent ; and I trust, 
that I have not joined my feeble prayers to yours in vain. Again, J. 
would say, that God has a good purpose to accomplish in your afflic- 
tion, and therefore entreat him to perform his work of salvation fully. 

Vol. I. 7 


You are in the furnace ; and it afflicts me to hear that the dispensation 
is so severe, and the fire so hot ; yet, if the stubborn dross of our sins 
cannot be otherwise separated from our souls, all is mercy still. " I 
will sit as a refiner's fire," saith the Lord ; and it is comfortable to 
reflect that he does sit by and watch the operation. Yet, with sub- 
mission to his will, it cannot be wrong to pray that he would mitigate 
your sufferings, make for you a smoother road to the house appointed for 
all living, or so increase your inward strength and comforts, that the 
soul may become less sensible to the pains of the body, and that you, 
like dying martyrs, may shout and triumph in the flame itself. 

I trust that you are satisfied as to your acceptance with God ; nay, 
that you can rejoice in the full assurance of his love revealed to you 
by his Holy Spirit. Be determined to obtain this ; for there is no 
other ground of safety and happiness than an application of the blood 
of atonement to our consciences, taking away the guilt of sin, and the 
condemning power of the law. It is to be received by an act of faith. 
Be persuaded that Christ is able to bless you with this full and glorious 
comfort now, and venture your whole upon him ; wait every moment 
for the evidence that the work is done, till faith, and joy, and praise 
spring up in your heart. This would be necessary, were you in health ; 
but now the time is short, and more than commonly uncertain. 
wrestle like Jacob, till you obtain the blessing. 

In like manner proceed to obtain the full sanctification of your 
nature. It is not death, but grace, that must destroy our sins, and 
make us meet for heaven. Have faith in the promise of the Father 
to send the Holy Spirit in all the power he exerted in the day of pen- 
tecost, to burn up the very root of corruption, and fill you in a moment 
with all the love and power of God, making you one with Christ, and 
an entirely new creature. 

By the same acts of praying faith expect perfect patience, peace, 
and love to be wrought in your mind, that you may come up to the 
measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, and spring up a mature 
Christian, saying, " Not my will, but thine be done." 

The language of Mr. Charles Wesley on his death bed may be 
suitable to your case : — 

" In age and feebleness extreme, 
Who shall a helpless worm redeem ? 
Jesus, my all in all thou art, 
Strength of my failing flesh and heart; 
O might I catch a smile from thee, 
And drop into eternity !" 

You are indeed in affliction, as a " leaf before the wind ; but there 
is a merciful and compassionate High Priest, who knows how to suc- 
cour you, being tempted and tried like unto you. cast yourself at 
his feet. Tell him you have heard of his compassions, and wait to 
prove them. Tell him that you are nothing, can do nothing, and wait 
to prove him to be your all in all. Have large and high thoughts 
of the boundless mercy of God ; for though we have sinned grievously, 
and awfully neglected his salvation, he is the Saviour still. He 
hateth putting away, and delighteth in mercy. He still spreads to 
receive us arms of mercy ; and his voice is, " Come unto me ; for I 


came to seek and save that which was lost." may you dnd I, and 
all of us, 

"To his arms of mercy fly, 

Find our lasting quiet there." 

I sympathize with my mother. The Lord support and bless her with 
his favour and strength ! I am your affectionate son, 

R. Watson. 

The venerable sufferer, to whom this very pious letter was addressed, 
died on the 27th of November. 

After Mr. Watson's appointment to the Wakefield circuit, he conti- 
nued his affectionate and improving correspondence with two of his 
friends in Manchester, belonging to the Methodist new connection. — 
The following extracts from his letters are worth preserving, for the 
light which they cast upon his character and history, and the valu- 
able sentiments which they contain. A considerable part of the first 
letter was written in Latin, and relates to certain peculiarities of 
expression in that language, in the study of which he was actively 

To Mr. Makinson, of Manchester 

Since virtue operates as a preservative of friendship, it is a rational act 
in each of us to promote our mutual piety : permit me therefore to com- 
mend to your serious attention something which I have lately found to 
be useful to myself. The Apostle Paul delineates the perfect image 
of a Christian in these words : " The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, 
peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temper- 
ance." I take this as my standard of examination every night; and 
try myself as to the fervour of my " love" to God and man ; the 
" peace" and tranquillity of my passions ; the spirituality of my "joys ;" 
my " long suffering" and long forbearance with untoward persons, as 
God has long borne with me ; my " gentleness," courtesy of spirit and 
behaviour ; — for the Gospel does that as to the manners which all the 
maxims of Lord Chesterfield cannot effect; as the apostle in another 
place also says, "Be courteous," I find courtesy to be a part of 
the religion of Christ ; — my " goodness," active benevolence, in what 
I have imitated the unwearied goodness of Him who is ever giving ; 
recollecting, too, that we then become most like him when we impart 
much and want little ; — " faith," fidelity, or trust ; for this I take to be 
the meaning of the word here, though I would not confine it to 
this explication ; — " meekness," freedom from unlawful anger ; — " tem- 
perance," the government of the senses, and of the imagination. — 
In applying this standard, ah ! how low have I sunk ! and when 
brought to this touchstone, how base and alloyed the metal ! Yet is it 
infinitely better to know our defects, though the discovery be painful, 
than to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Let 
God be praised that, by his grace, we approach at all to this descrip- 
tion ; and may he who can fulfil in us all the good pleasure of his will 
answer our prayers to this effect, and answer them speedily ! 

I should have finished my letter in Latin, however bald, but that I 
had delayed so long, and was afraid you should have the shadow of a 
cause to charge me with neglect : but let your reply be all Roman. 


I hope to "have the pleasure of seeing you in a few weeks, but cannot 
fix the time ; probably at Easter, as I shall, God willing, assist in 
opening a new chapel at Armley, near Leeds, on Easter Monday.— 
Present my best regards to Mr. Watkin, to whom I intend to write 
next. I have done very little in Hebrew, but have not wholly neglected 
it. I find, upon summoning up what I learned, that I can translate 
with tolerable facility by the help of the lexicon. Mrs. Watson joins 
in remembrances. 

Some very heavy storms have made me think of Horace : — 

Sapius ventis agitatur ingen 
Pinus; et celsa graviore casu 
Decidunt turres, feriuntque summos 
Fulmina montes.* 

The opening of the new chapel at Armley, here anticipated by Mr. 
Watson, was a memorable occasion. The village was large and popu- 
lous ; the chapel was spacious ; the Methodist society in the place 
was numerous and influential ; and the religious services, which ,were 
well attended, were exceedingly interesting and impressive. Mr. 
Bunting preached in the afternoon, on the apostolical commission, Mark 
xvi, 15, 16 ; and Mr. Watson in the morning and evening. In the 
morning his text was, " Ye are come unto Mount Sion," Heb. xii, 22 ; 
from which he gave a most edifying and instructive description of the 
Christian dispensation, typified by the services of the Jewish sanctuary; 
and in the evening he preached on, "Thy people shall be willing in 
the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the 
morning : thou hast the dew of thy youth," Psalm ex, 3. After a con- 
cise introduction, in which he showed that these words have no direct 
reference to the doctrine of irresistible grace, in support of which they 
have so often been quoted, he proceeded to speak of converts to the 
faith in Christ, whom he described as numerous as dew drops in the 
morning, — clad in the beautiful armour of holiness, — marshalled by the 
great Captain of their salvation, — and led forth by him to glorious war 
against the ignorance, superstition, and wickedness of the world. — 
That world he represented as " in the wicked one ;" and gave a most 
appalling view of the influence and dominion of Satan over the unen- 
lightened and unregenerate part of mankind. Among them education, 
commerce, legislation, literature, and even religion, are impregnated 
with evil. All this evil was to be counteracted and overthrown by the 
Christian Church, acting under the direction of the Lord, and in the 
power of his might. Upon the mind of every serious and attentive 
nearer, the entire discourse left a deep and permanent impression of 
the power of Satan, the wretched and perilous state of unholy men, and 
the obligations of Christians to use every exertion, both unitedly and in 
their individual capacity, to promote the interests of true religion. The 
sermon was calculated to excite the highest admiration of the preach- 
er's abilities ; but that feeling seemed to be lost in commiseration 

* When high in air the pine ascends, 
To every ruder blast it bends. 
The palace falls with heavier weight, 
When tumbling from its airy height; 
And when from heaven the lightning flie3, 
It blasts the hills that proudest rise. 



for mankind, the conviction of personal duty and responsibility, regrets 
for past neglect, and the desire to do something for the advancement 
of the Christian cause. 

The following is an extract from a letter addressed to the same 
friend, and, like the former, written partly in Latin. It is highly cha- 
racteristic of Mr. Watson's views of the comparative value of Chris- 
tianity and philosophy : — 

" My letter was interrupted by my being called to visit an old fol- 
lower of Jesus Christ ; but, being returned, I resume my pen. I have 
been much profited by the interview. I have been not to instruct, but 
to be instructed. For some years I have not seen the dying hours of 
even a good man so much honoured. One of his expressions was, 
' Days, weeks, and months have rolled round during my affliction ; and 
I have scarcely known the night from the day, nor the day from the 
night ; so rapidly and joyfully have the hours escaped me. I have felt 
nothing but joy and love. Not for a moment have I been impatient, 
nor weary, nor wished it otherwise with me ; so marvellously has God 
wrought in me. This is the hand of God. This never grew in nature's 
soil. Glory, glory be to God ! Not unto me, but to his name be the 
glory.' On my saying that the reasons for his heavy afflictions being 
permitted would be fully- explained hereafter, he said eagerly, ' God is 
explaining them to me now. I do not wait for light. All is clear. — 
Wondrously does he work in me every moment ; and make every 
thought praise and prayer.' Now, what would an infidel say to this ? 
Lord, give me this religion, and let the world have its philosophy." 

The probability is, that the afflicted person here referred to was 
Matthew Shackleton, who is well known to have been a favourite 
character with Mr. Watson. This poor man, who was a local preacher, 
and lived in the neighbourhood of Wakefield, was a weaver, far 
advanced in life, and had been sickly from his boyhood. He was 
diminutive in size ; his labour was often interrupted by illness ; his 
earnings were therefore small and uncertain ; and had it not been for 
the kindness of his friends, his privations and sufferings would have 
been severe. His spirit was naturally buoyant, his understanding 
vigorous and acute, and his piety was deep and cheerful. Mr. Watson 
delighted much in the society and conversation of this good man ; and 
often remarked, that, had he been favoured with a regular education, 
and been placed in other circumstances, he would, in all probability, 
have been one of the first metaphysicians of the age. With him it 
was an admitted principle, which he frequently repeated, especially in 
reference to his own afflictions, that " God is doing the best he can for 
every body:" regarding, of course, the operations of omnipotent good- 
ness and mercy as always under the restraint and direction of infinite 
purity, justice, and truth. Mr. Waison often ministered to the neces- 
sities of this intelligent and holy man, admiring in him the power 
and excellence of vital godliness. He died in the joyous faith and 
hope of the Gospel a few years after Mr. Watson had left the Wake- 
field circuit. 

To Mr. Absalom Watkin, of Manchester. 

My Very Dear Friend, — I thank you for your letter ; and hope 
that, whatever delays may occur in my answers, they may be attributed 


to any thing else but indifference to a friendship I shall ever value. I 
am happy to find that you feel an increasing pleasure and profit in the 
duties of the ministry. That employment gives an object to our studies, 
is a guard upon our conduct ; and, by a law of grace, as necessary in 
its operation as any law of nature, increases grace and knowledge by 
communicating them, as long as it is performed in a right spirit. Go 
on, then, in this good work; and may God prosper you. You seem, 
however, to me, to be in a kind of bondage, from the views you have 
of the extensive knowledge requisite for a preacher. If you had said, 
" for a divine, or for a preacher to learned audiences," the observation 
would have been more just ; but for a useful Methodist preacher ex- 
tensive theological knowledge is not necessary. Good sense and piety 
are our grand requisites. The one to be applied to understand the 
fundamental doctrines of experimental godliness ; and the other, to 
preach them with zeal, and the demonstration of the Spirit. With these 
qualifications you may boldly go forth ; for with these only the most of 
us have gone forth, and have been successful. I do not make this re- 
mark with the intention of scouting the honourable ambition you feel 
to become a divine ; but to endeavour to quicken your natural back- 
wardness, and to induce you, by a friendly hint, to break through the 
temptation, that till you know more theology you are unfit to preach. 
It is true, if we intend publicly to enter into the difficulties of divinity, 
much learning will be requisite to conduct us honourably through our 
undertaking ; but these are subjects rather fitted for the press than the 
pulpit, where the plainest truths, expressed in the plainest manner, will 
be found most useful. Let us, nevertheless, most deeply and exten- 
sively study the whole of revelation, but not in every particular with a 
view to the pulpit. We may be relatively ignorant, and yet neither un- 
wise nor unprofitable preachers. This distinction has often relieved 
my mind, and it may yours ; but I never considered it as an apology 
for sloth. As a proof of this, I am so convinced of my ignorance, that 
I have begun the study of divinity with new ardour ; and, if that can 
be a motive, with conscious shame. 

I wish you had given me your opinion on some subjects, rather than 
have asked mine ; for I feel afraid of being thought, nay, of being, dic- 
tatorial. However, be assured that what I say is in deference to my 
friends. As to your stated difficulty, " on actions done before conver- 
sion," it seems partly to rise from the use of equivocal words. You 
instance a wicked man giving alms ; and say, that cannot be a bad 
action : you think it has something good in it. Now, in the first place, 
the word " good" is equivocal. It may mean good beneficially, as to 
man ; or good morally, as to God. In one of these senses almsgiving 
is a good action : who can doubt it ? In the other it is not good, because 
it is not a work of the heart. Secondly, " bad" is an equivocal word, 
as you use it. It may mean not a good action, or positively a bad one ; 
that is, a wicked action ; for an action may not be good, and yet not 
bad. If the alms were given from ostentation, the action is morally 
bad, because it involves a corrupt principle : if they were given from a 
mere impulse of natural feeling, it is not a moral action at all, and 
therefore morally neither good nor bad ; yet beneficially it is good as 
to the object, though indifferent or bad as to the agent. You continue : 
" If the man was not a necessary agent, but had the power to withstand 


his feelings, he did well ;" that is, religiously. This I dispute. We 
seem agreed that the action, in order to the determination of its moral 
character, must be an effect of our moral nature ; that is, of our under- 
standing and will ; then the whole question lies here, " What determines 
the will to act ?" If the feelings solely, almsgiving has no more morality 
in it than the actions of eating and drinking, to which we are deter- 
mined by appetite. If the will is determined by a persuasion in the 
mind that it is for the benefit of society, that one man should relieve 
another ; it is a moral action, not a religious one : the latter it becomes 
only when we do it, as we ought to do all things, for the glory of God. 
Therefore I conclude with the orthodox article, that works done with- 
out faith have in them the nature of sin, as to God. As you are study- 
ing logic, take a syllogism : — 

Without faith it is impossible to please God ; 

But wicked men have not faith : 

Ergo, Wicked men cannot please God. 

The major, being an inspired proposition, cannot be doubted. 

The minor is proved thus : — 

He that believeth shall be saved ; 

But wicked men are not saved : 

Ergo, Wicked men do not believe — have no faith. 

Again : — 

True charity is the fruit of faith ; — faith worketh by love ; — 

But wicked men have not faith : 

Ergo, Wicked men have not true charity. 

I do not, however, see that the text you mention leads naturally to 
these distinctions, though on other subjects they are both important and 
necessary. The persons addressed are Christians ; and are exhorted 
to do good, to the souls and bodies of men, from Christian motives : the 
example and command of Christ ; the consideration of their duty as 
servants receiving talents, and having a charge to occupy till their Lord 
shall come ; and in obedience to those soft and tender compassions 
which the love of God produces in the hearts of good men. The sub- 
ject you have started is a very serious one ; and on this particular we 
must be clear before we can properly preach the doctrine of justifica- 
tion by faith alone. All works done before justification are sinful either 
from their nature, or from defect ; and consequently sin is imputed to 
us till the moment we believe ; and then, and not till then, faith is im- 
puted for righteousness, in the stead of righteousness. But you perhaps 
say, " As far as relates to our obedience to the perfect law, we have 
defects after justification, and therefore we sin." So we do ; but with 
this glorious difference, that having a constant faith in the sacrifice of 
Christ, that faith is constantly imputed to us for righteousness, and no 
charge lies against God's elect ; whereas, up to the moment of our 
justification, every sin and every defect is charged upon us, even the 
defects of the very fruit of our repentance. 

Your observations upon cheerfulness and gloom demand considera- 
tion, and may form a profitable subject of conversation when we meet. 
At present, it strikes me as a good rule, to consider the effect of both 
upon our duties in the closet ; and thus to judge whether in either we 
have gone to an extreme. To be cheerful without being light, grave 
and not sad, is an attainment of no ordinary value. Perhaps the best 


■way is to " be always employed, and never triflingly employed ;" and, 
when we meet our friends, to cultivate a disposition to converse on 
many different subjects, but all useful ones. 

It is just three months since! had the pleasure of your company. 
How fleet is time ! 

Truditur dies die, 

Novaque pergunt interire lunm.*— Horace. 

Well, let them wax and wane. ,We haste into eternity, to immortal 
joys ; a holy society ; to a purified, exalted, and never-ending friend- 

Give my love to all friends. 

To the Same. 

My Very Dear Friend, — Yours with the books came duly to hand. 
I will return the books which I have of yours as soon as an oppor- 
tunity serves. Your view of the office of Christ, as administering the 
kingdoms of nature, providence, and grace, is, in my opinion, supported 
by the whole of Scripture ; and though not, as you suspect, an original 
thought, is not much insisted upon by theologians. It has long been a 
favourite topic with me ; and I have occasionally expressed it inciden- 
tally in preaching. To me the second person in the trinity appears to 
be the acting God of the Old Testament, ruling over Jews and Gentiles 
in virtue of his anticipated passion, of which this rule was the reward 
as to him, and an act of mercy as to the world. The following pas- 
sages, among many others, support the doctrine : — " All things were 
created by him, and for him ;" " all things are put under him ;" " he is 
appointed heir of all things ;" " the Father judgeth no man, but hath 
committed all judgment unto the Son ;" " then cometh the end, when 
he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father ; when 
he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he 
must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet." And the sub- 
lime scenery of the Revelation represents " the Lamb" as destroying 
his enemies, and plaguing the nations, as well as supporting his Church. 
These great and consolatory truths result from the doctrine. The world 
is governed in united mercy and justice, being in the hands of a me- 
diator ; the revolutions of nations have a bearing upon the spread of 
Gospel truth ; the dispensations of Providence, both as to nations and 
individuals, are subservient to, or move in conjunction with, purposes of 
grace. The field of reflection is very wide. 

I have not a sermon on the resurrection which would afford you 
any pleasure in the perusal ; but I copy a part of the outline of one I 
preached at the last district meeting ; and if you can make any use of 
it, you are welcome. 

" That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold 
that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto 
praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ," 1 
Pet. i, 7. 

When Thomas was invited to put his fingers into the prints of the 
nails in his Saviour's hands and feet, and to thurst his hand into the 

* Day presses on the heels of day, 
And moons increase to their decay.— Francis. 


Lord's side, he exclaimed, " My Lord and my God ;" and Jesus 
addressing him said, " Because thou hast seen me thou hast believed : 
blessed are they which have not seen, and yet have believed." 

The persons to whom this epistle was addressed had not seen 
Christ, verse 8 ; yet their faith is not represented as inferior. This 
proves that faith is not merely an intellectual principle, but a moral one 
also. If wholly intellectual, it is difficult to understand the words of 
Christ ; and to prove that those who had a weaker evidence of the 
resurrection than Thomas were more blessed. The blessedness then 
would be in proportion to the quantity of evidence. But where no 
evidence is sufficient, the strength of faith does not depend upon any 
degree of evidence more than that, but upon the docility of our minds, 
and the desire to know and do the will of God. Hence the centurion's 
faith was greater than any that was found in Israel. 

Faith, therefore, is a moral principle ; a work of the heart, as well as 
of the head ; and hence also it is associated with moral dispositions. 
We read of making shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience. For 
this reason faith has so much importance in the Christian scheme. 
Men are not damned or saved for an opinion, as some say : faith is the 
root of goodness ; and a heart of unbelief is an evil heart, departing 
from the living God. 

These observations may serve as a key to the text, which speaks 
of the trial of faith. If faith were a set of opinions only, it could not 
be tried : but a moral principle is the subject of trial ; of being held 
fast or lost ; of increase, diminution, destruction. 

I. Explain the nature of Christian faith. 

Faith is to be considered, 

1. As standing opposed to reason. Not in the opposition of hostility, 
but of principle and operation. By reason we form opinions on such 
subjects only as are within the reach of human understanding. The 
limit of reason is human knowledge. Faith rises into a higher reason, 
and knows no limit but the infinite wisdom of God, and the revelations 
he may make. 

From this it appears of how little service mere reason would be 
in religion ; as we know so little (perhaps nothing) of God, our im- 
mortal nature, and the future existence. It is faith which enlarges the 
boundaries of our knowledge. 

Yet to a certain degree there is an essential connection between faith 
and reason. The proper work of reason, prescribed by faith, is, first, 
to examine the evidences of a revelation ; and, secondly, to search its 
meaning ; not to judge its doctrines, but to understand them. 

2. Faith is opposed to practical unbelief. 

3. Faith has in it the nature of trust and recumbency. Credit and 
trust are distinct ideas. 

4. Faith is to be considered as opposed to respect for the agency of 
second causes, where the promises of God are concerned. In relation 
to the birth of Isaac, Abraham looked not at second causes, but placed 
an absolute reliance upon the Divine veracity and power. 

5. Faith is opposed to sense. We walk by faith and not by sight. 
It opens an invisible world, and makes the future present. 

II. Its trial. 

All graces are tried ; but faith has its peculiar trials. 


1. It is tried by the pride of human reason. Two classes of men 
are subject to this temptation ; men of enlarged, and men of little 
minds. Vain man would be wise ; he is fond of system ; we are prone 
to bend the word of God to system, not our system to the word. If 
faith be conquered, the result will probably be skepticism ; if it con- 
quer, fixedness of opinion. 

2. By temptations to sin. All temptations assail our faith first. So 
sin entered into the world by the suggestion of doubts respecting the 
Divine veracity. 

3. Faith is tried by afflictions. 

4. By the natural slothfulness of our spirits, and tendency to close 
our eyes upon spiritual and eternal things. 

III. The honours which shall be put upon it at Christ's second 

1. Christ shall honour the faith of him who has believed mysteries 
upon his authority. The doctrine of the Godhead of Christ may be 
adduced as an instance. He " will show in his times who is the 
blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords." 

2. He will honour the faith of him who has believed in afflictions, 
by explaining the mysteries of Providence. The confession will then 
be made, " He hath done all things well." 

3. He will honour faith by displaying the moral effects it has in all 
ages produced. 

4. By proving in the eternal redemption of his people that they have 
not believed cunningly devised fables. 

These are only hints, but they will furnish subjects for a conversation 
between you and our common friend, Mr. Makinson ; and if you will 
explain faith more clearly, and send me the result of your deliberations, 
I shall be very thankful. 

Mr. Watson was not generally in the habit of dating his letters ; and 
hence it is sometimes difficult to ascertain the precise periods at which 
they were written. The excellent sermon, of which he has here given 
an outline to his friends, is said to have been preached at the district 
meeting ; and as the subject appears to have been fresh in his recol- 
lection, the probability is, that the letter was written in the spring of 
the year 1813, between the district meeting and the conference. The 
letter itself will serve to show the tone of thought which at this time 
pervaded his public ministrations, and the manner in which he arranged 
the topics of which his sermons consisted. At the same time it presents 
a striking display of that frankness and generosity which were among 
his most remarkable characteristics. He gave Mr. Nicholson the 
free use of his papers when they were stationed together in Liverpool ; 
and he was equally ready to serve and oblige his other friends in the 
same manner, when they wished to be instructed by his intellectual 



Departure of Dr. Coke from England — Formation of a Methodist Missionary 
Society in Leeds — State of the Methodist Missions — Mr. Watson's Sermon on 
that Occasion — Writes an Address in behalf of the Methodist Missions — Speech 
at a Missionary Meeting at Halifax- — Assists in forming a Missionary Society in 
Hull, and another at Sheffield — Speech on a similar Occasion in Wakefield — 
Letters to Messrs. Makinson and Watkin. 

On completing his first year in the Wakefield circuit, Mr. Watson 
attended the conference in Liverpool, which was held in July and 
August, 1813. This was a memorable period in the history of 
Methodism; and the events connected with this annual assembling of 
the Wesleyan ministers exerted no common influence on his future 
character and labours. Up to that time the Methodist missions were 
mostly confined to the West Indies, and the British settlements in 
North America ; and they were carried on under the general superin- 
tendence of the Rev. Dr. Coke, by whom the requisite pecuniary sup- 
plies for their support were principally raised. After crossing the 
Atlantic Ocean no less than eighteen times, for objects connected with 
religion, that most zealous and benevolent minister of Christ meditated 
a voyage to the east, intending to form missions in the island of Ceylon, 
and in Java. Considering his advanced age, — for he was then in his 
sixty-seventh year, — the want of funds, and the need of his services in 
the management of the missions already established, several of his 
brethren attempted to dissuade him from the arduous enterprise ; but 
his heart was set upon the work, and their reasonings and entreaties 
were alike unavailing. Perceiving that his arguments failed to con- 
vince them, he burst into tears ; and exclaimed, " If you will not let me 
go, it will break my heart !" When they saw that, so deep was his con- 
viction of duty, he could not be induced to alter his design, they 
repeated the sentiment which had been long before uttered on a 
somewhat similar occasion, " The will of the Lord be done," Acts 
xxi, 14. 

As soon as the conference was over, Dr. Coke began to make pre- 
paration for his voyage to India ; and, having taken leave of his friends 
in England, he embarked in December, 1813, accompanied by the 
Rev. Messrs. Clough, Harvard, Ault, Erskine, Squance, Lynch, and 
M'Kenny. In the meanwhile the friends of the Wesleyan missions 
perceived that a responsibility devolved upon them which they had not 
previously felt ; and that new and extraordinary exertions were neces- 
sary to meet this additional expense, as well as to support the missions 
which had long been in active and useful operation. The preachers 
had generally made an annual collection for missionary purposes in 
their several circuits ; and Dr. Coke had long been accustomed to 
visit the principal societies in England and Ireland, pleading the cause, 
with an ardour peculiar to himself, both from the pulpit and from door 
to door. By these means a sum amounting to somewhat more than six 
thousand pounds was yearly placed at his disposal, to be applied 
chiefly in negro instruction; the spiritual necessities and temporal 
sufferings of the slaves in the West Indies exciting in those times a 
deep sympathy whenever they were pressed upon the public attention. 


The moneys hitherto raised were scarcely sufficient to meet the 
expenditure ; that expenditure was greatly increased by the mission 
to India ; a debt of six thousand pounds, which had been for some 
time accumulating, had been only recently liquidated by a simulta- 
neous and extraordinary effort ; and the very efficient and successful 
exertions of Dr. Coke, in making collections and raising subscriptions, 
were at an end. In this new and unexpected emergency great anxiety 
was felt in various quarters, and several plans were proposed as likely 
to meet the exigency of the case. No men were more alive to the 
importance of the occasion than the Wesleyan ministers in the western 
part of Yorkshire ; particularly the Rev. Messrs. Morley and Bunting, 
who were then stationed at Leeds. Mr. Morley recommended the 
formation of a society, which should employ collectors in raising 
weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual subscriptions in aid of the 
Methodist missions ; and in order to the organization of such a 
society, the holding of a public meeting in that town. This plan had 
been successfully employed by some other denominations of Christians ; 
and it was thought the more desirable in the present case, as it was 
known that several Methodist families in Leeds were in the habit of 
contributing small sums in this manner toward the support of missions 
belonging to another religious community, when they would more 
readily give the same amount in favour of their own missions, were the 
requisite facilities afforded. The project was mentioned to several 
ministers and friends in the Leeds, Wakefield, and Bramley circuits, and 
met with a general and hearty approval. It was finally agreed that a 
public meeting should be held at Leeds on the 6th of October ; and 
Messrs. Buckley and Watson were requested to preach preparatory 
sermons. With this request Mr. Watson was very reluctant to com- 
ply. No man cherished a more intense interest in the cause than he ; 
but the plan was new in Methodism ; he had only been recently 
admitted into the connection ; and he thought that perhaps some of the 
senior preachers, who were imperfectly acquainted with his principles 
and character, might accuse him of attempting to introduce injurious 
novelties into the body. He was willing to assist at the meeting ; but 
he suggested that, considering the peculiarity of his case, he should 
take only a subordinate part in the measures which were then contem- 
plated. This objection, however, was overruled ; and he consented to 
take the proposed service. Mr. Buckley preached at Armley on the 
preceding evening ; and Mr. Watson in the Albion-street chapel, Leeds, 
on the following morning. The public meeting was held in the afternoon ; 
at which Thomas Thompson, Esq. M. P., presided. It was only in- 
tended in the first instance to form a society for the Leeds circuit ; but 
at the earnest recommendation of Mr. Thompson, it was agreed to 
form a society for the district. All the services were numerously 
attended; and the interest created was deep and extensive. The 
speeches delivered at the meeting were published in a small pamphlet 
by Mr. James Nichols, then resident in Leeds ; four large impressions 
of which were extensively distributed, and excited great attention. 

The sermon delivered by Mr. Watson on the morning of this day 
was admirably adapted to give a tone of hallowed seriousness to the 
public meeting ; and the crowded assembly cordially united in request- 
ing its publication. To this distinction it was justly entitled. It was 


delivered in a very impressive manner ; and few things could be con- 
ceived better adapted to promote the cause of missions than its extended 
circulation. The text was, " Come from the four winds, O breath, 
and breathe upon these slain, that they may live," Ezek. xxxvii, 9.-— 
The sermon possesses great merit as a literary composition ; but its 
chief value consists in the just and striking view which it gives of the 
state of the heathen, the power of the Gospel, and the obligation 
which rests upon the Church to make provision for its universal publi- 
cation. On the first of these subjects Mr. Watson remarks, in a 
strain of eloquence almost peculiar to himself, " The heathen have 
turned ' the truth of God into a lie ;' their religious opinions are absurd 
fables ; and the principles of morality, being left without support, have 
been all borne down by the tide of sensual appetite and ungovemed 
passion. Ignorance the most profound, imaginations the most extrava- 
gant, and crimes the most daring, have ever characterized ' the world' 
which lies in the power of ' the wicked one.' But though all this be 
awfully true, it is not on these circumstances that we would princi- 
pally fix your attention. There is another and more alarming truth to 
be told. The heathen world is judicially dead, under the wrath and 
curse of almighty God. The law which they have violated turns the 
edge of the sword of justice against them ; the conscience which they 
have abused renders them miserable in their crimes ; and as death 
expels their myriads from this state of being, they appear before the 
God of judgment, who hath said, ' The abominable, and murderers, and 
whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, shall have their part in 
the burning lake, which is the second death.' 

" Were these solemn truths well fixed in our minds, they would 
stand in the place of a volume of argument to induce us to support 
missionary institutions. They would burst at once the bands of selfish- 
ness, and ' draw out our souls' to them who are perishing for lack of 
knowledge. The contemplation of the imminent danger of so great a 
portion of our fellow men would melt at once the frigidness of our 
natures, and cause our affections to flow forth in strong prayers, and 
still stronger exertions, in behalf of our brethren in distant lands, who 
have ' forgotten the God of their salvation, and have not been mindful 
of the rock of their strength.' 

" To counteract these generous feelings, and to stop the stream of 
pity in its very fountain, we are aware that the doctrine of the safety 
of the heathen has been confidently affirmed ; and perhaps we also 
have slumbered over our duty, lulled by the drone of that doting and 
toothless theology which treats sin with the cruel tenderness of an 
Eli to his sons, and employs itself rather in drawing extravagant 
pictures of the mercy of God, than in supporting the just rights of his 
government. Resting in plausible general principles, which are never 
pursued to their consequences, there are many who appear to consider 
the Divine Being under some obligation of justice to throw open the 
gates of salvation to the whole world of polluted heathen ; thus making 
vice a kind of passport to heaven, and ignorance a better security for 
the eternal happiness of men than the full display of the glorious doc- 
trines and the impressive motives of our religion. The true question 
is among all such persons often mistaken. It is not, whether it is 
possible for heathens to be saved, — that we grant : but that circum- 


stance proves the actual state of the heathen world to be more danger- 
ous than if no such possibility could be proved ; for the possibility of 
their salvation indisputably shows them to be the subjects of moral 
government, and therefore liable to an aggravated punishment in case 
of disobedience. The true question is, Are the heathens, immoral 
and idolatrous as they are, actually safe ? On this solemn subject 
we are not left to the decisions of human authority. Inspiration itself 
has decided it ; and when human opinions and Divine revelation come 
into opposition, you will not hesitate to say, ' Let God be true, and every 
man a liar.' The reasoning of St. Paul, in the first chapter of the Epis- 
tle to the Romans, is of universal application ; it bears no marks of par- 
ticularity ; and there is nothing in the state of the heathen of our day to 
render it less applicable to them than to the heathen of his own. His 
conclusion is, that for all their crimes and idolatries, ' they are without 
excuse.' They are ignorant ; but it is because they ' do not like to 
retain God in their knowledge.' They have ' a law written on their 
hearts ;' but they violate it. They have a conscience which ' accuses 
or excuses them ;' but they disregard it ; and ' therefore they are 
without excuse.' This is the conclusion of an infallible teacher, 
against which it is vain to reason ; and from this it follows, that, if the 
fact of general and perhaps universal depravity of principle and action 
among the heathens be proved, then another conclusion of the apostle 
must follow of course, that ' the wrath of God is revealed from heaven 
against them ;' that the valley is full of souls, dead to God, and under 
the sentence of an everlasting condemnation." 

On the number of the .heathen who are in this perilous condition, we 
have the following remarks, which produced a powerful effect upon the 
congregation at the time of their delivery : — " The slain of sin are 
innumerable. The valley, as we trace it, seems to sweep to an 
unlimited extent ; and yet every where it is full ! The whole earth is 
that valley. Where is the country where transgression stalks not 
with daring and destructive activity? where it has not covered and 
polluted the soil with its victims ? In some places, it is true, we 
behold the 'few who are saved;' but in many large and crowded 
nations we should look even for that few in vain ; and the words of 
the psalmist might, after the most charitable investigation, prove even 
literally applicable : ' They are all gone out of the way ; there is none 
that doeth good, no not one.' Let us pass over Europe, whose popu- 
lation bears but a small proportion to that of the globe, though there 
chiefly the Christian name is known. Let us not even stop to 
inquire how many bones lie unburied and dry in that valley ; or, if in 
many instances bone has been united to bone, in the profession of 
true religion, of how many the prophet would still say, ' There is no 
breath,' of vital religion ' in them !' Let us take our post of observa- 
tion elsewhere. If we turn *> the east, there the peopled valleys of 

Asia stretch before us ; but peopled with whom ? With the dead ! • 

That quarter of the earth alone presents five hundred millions of 
souls, with but few exceptions, without a God, save gods that sanction 
vice ; without a sacrifice, save sacrifices of folly and blood ; without a 
priest, except a race of jugglers, impostors, and murderers ; without 
holy days, except such as debase by their levity, corrupt by their 
sensuality, or harden by their cruelty. With a little difference as to 


religious rites, the same description is applicable to the thirty millions 
of the race of Ham, and to the aborigines of the new world. This 
view, it is true, is somewhat relieved by a few rays of light shining 
here and there amid the gloom ; by the cheering sight of a few pro- 
phets of the Lord sent forth by the piety of Christians, prophesying 
to the dry bones, and surrounded by a few living men, the fruit of their 
mission. But, however hopeful the gleam of success is, the affecting 
fact is, the valley is still full of dead. It is only in a few places on 
its verge that the prophets of the Lord are seen ; only within a small 
compass that their voice is heard. On the rest of the valley the gloom 
of despair settles, and sin and death hold undisturbed dominion. No 
sound of salvation breaks the horrid silence, and no ' shaking is heard 
among the bones.' " 

These sentiments, expressed with such eloquence and pathos, Mr. 
Watson never had occasion either to modify or retract. For nearly 
twenty years of his subsequent life he was in almost constant corres- 
pondence with missionaries in all quarters of the globe; and all his 
inquiries and accumulated knowledge served only to confirm the view 
which he has here so forcibly given. He has been often heard to 
say, that it was under a sermon preached many years before this 
period, by the venerable Andrew Fuller, of Kettering, that he received 
his first impressions of the wickedness of idolatry, and of the conse- 
quent danger and wretchedness of the heathen. The Methodist new 
connection has no foreign missions ; and hence, during his union with 
that body, he had no opportunity of affording direct assistance in pro- 
moting the cause of Christ in pagan lands. But even then, it will be 
perceived, his attention was directed to the subject with feelings of no 
ordinary interest. His pastoral addresses to the societies of the new 
connection, and the sermons which he preached when stationed in 
Manchester, show that he was no indifferent spectator of the mis- 
sionary operations carried on by different sections of the Church ; 
and that he anticipated the most glorious results from these pious and 
benevolent agencies. The workings of his mind in those times dis- 
tinctly exhibit the elements of that missionary zeal and enterprise 
which distinguished him in the latter years of his life. 

The publication of this powerful sermon was not the only service 
which Mr. Watson rendered to the good cause. He was made one of 
the secretaries of the society then formed ; and at the request of the 
public meeting he wrote an Address to professing Christians, stating 
the extent and objects of the Methodist missions, and their claims 
upon the countenance and support of the friends of humanity and reli- 
gion, and especially upon the Methodist societies and congregations. 
This important document contains a just tribute to the zeal and piety 
of Dr. Coke, then on the point of leaving his native country for ever. 
The fact is, Mr. Watson greatly admired the doctor's character. That 
very excellent man had visited Wakefield in the course of the preced- 
ing year, and had preached and solicited subscriptions in behalf of 
his favourite mission to the slaves in the West Indies ; and Mr. Wat- 
son had accompanied him to many families and individuals in that 
town, for the purpose of obtaining contributions, and was highly 
delighted with the urbanity, the Christian politeness, and the quench- 
less ardour of that friend of God and man. 


After stating the necessity of a permanent increase in the funds of 
the Methodist missions, Mr. Watson says in this address, "It was with 
this view that a Methodist missionary society was lately established 
at Leeds ; a measure which appeared to be equally called for by 
increasing opportunities for evangelizing heathen nations ; by the 
excellent example of other Christian societies ; and by the loss of the 
personal exertions of Dr. Coke, who for years has stooped to the very 
drudgery of charity, and gratuitously pleaded the cause of a perishing 
world from door to door. While he leads our little band of missiona- 
ries against the idolatry of the east, and while more than one hundred 
other Methodist missionaries,* in different parts of the world are 
immediately engaged in the same contest with the powers of dark- 
ness, it devolves upon us who remain at home to give effect to 
the necessary financial arrangements, and to furnish the sinews of this 
holy war." 

It is impossible to estimate the effect produced by this appeal. 
Several societies of a kind similar to that which was formed in the 
Leeds district were instituted in different parts of the kingdom; and 
by most of them the address was adopted with slight modifications. — 
In the report which was read at the first anniversary of the society 
for the Leeds district, it was stated that the income of the institution 
during a period of somewhat less than twelve months was such, that, 
after meeting all the incidental expenses, the sum of j£1000 had been 
transmitted to the treasurer in London ; and it was added, " For the very 
liberal contributions thus enumerated, the committee consider the 
society to be deeply indebted, under the Divine blessing, to the free 
circulation of an ' Address to the Public,' drawn up at the request of 
the general meeting, by the Rev. Richard Watson, in which the 
extent and importance of the Methodist missions were briefly stated, 
and their claims on the support of the friends of religion were ably and 
energetically enforced. Of this address many thousands have been 
distributed, under the direction of the local committees." 

It was not to be expected that the noble example of missionary zeal 
and liberality, set by the preachers and friends of Leeds and its vici- 
nity, should be either unobserved or uninfluential. A public meeting 
was held at Halifax on the 10th of November following, for the pur- 
pose of forming a Methodist missionary society for that district, which 
was also numerously attended, and was followed by results similar to 
those which had characterized the proceedings at Leeds. Sermons 
were preached by the Rev. Messrs. Reece and Bunting ; and Mr. 
Watson attended the meeting, where he delivered the following speech 
with powerful effect. He wrote it subsequently to the meeting, and 
gave it to Mr. Nichols, that he might append it to a fourth edition of 
the speeches delivered at Leeds. It was the first speech in behalf of 
Christian missions ever uttered by him at a public meeting, and is 
given entire. It forms an admirable commencement of that effective 
advocacy of the cause by which he was distinguished through a 
series of years. 

* This number includes about forty men who were employed in the home 
missions of Wales and the more neglected parts of England. About sixty mis- 
sionaries were then employed in the foreign work, and among the Roman Catho- 
lics of Ireland. 


Mr. Chairman, — The subject which so evidently engages the feel- 
ings of this numerous assembly has been already placed in a variety 
of views by the speakers who have preceded me ; and in all it has 
deeply interested our hearts. But, sir, it is wide as the mercy of God, 
and the wants of man ; and though I cannot hope to add much to what 
has* been so well and wisely said, there is a pleasure, in such a cause, 
to contribute even a mite. 

Of the general principle of attempting to evangelize the world, little 
need now be said. This meeting, by unanimously passing the first 
resolution, has recorded an opinion in favour of missionary efforts, and 
pledged itself, in the true spirit of Christianity, to promote them. As 
the principle has been recognized, nothing now remains but to bring it 
into action ; to mature our plans, and to fix our attention upon those 
motives which may encourage us to proceed to their execution, with- 
out variableness or shadow of turning. 

Among many motives of high and commanding efficacy, this, sir, I 
think, is not one of the least important, that we act under the imme- 
diate influence of God himself. The position is, I think, unquestiona- 
ble. In a meeting of this kind, it is a very natural question to ask, 
What is it that interests us in the welfare of heathen nations ? We 
never saw them, and perhaps never shall see them. There is no natu- 
ral, and in most cases, no civil connection between us. We are sepa- 
rated from them by oceans and continents. Man, too, is naturally a 
selfish being. Destitute of religion, his affections do not expand, but 
contract ; and perhaps, beyond his instincts he has no affections. — 
What is it, then, which links us with the miseries of heathens, and 
excites the pity, and stretches out the hands of Christians, to their 
relief 1 It is the spirit of our religion ; the influence of the God of 
love, the Father of the human family. It is that which tunes the 
chords of human feeling, and makes them vibrate in sympathy with 
the sounds of human misery in every part of the earth. If, then, sir, 
we act under his influence and approbation, we need not a stronger 
motive. We are the agents of his plans, and the almoners of his 

There is something, sir, in the present circumstances of our religion 
which has a powerful bearing upon the support of missions. For 
many ages Christianity acted chiefly upon the defensive against her 
enemies, and employed herself in turning their weapons, and in defend- 
ing her acquisitions, rather than in enlarging them. Yet these defen- 
sive conflicts have been often severe, and every age has witnessed 
them. Many of us are but young ; yet we are old enough to remem- 
ber one of the most formidable of these struggles, the organization of 
a grand conspiracy of infidels, in almost every part of Europe, against 
our religion. The great object was, to bring the Bible into contempt ; 
to loosen the hold which Christianity had upon the hopes and fears of 
man ; and all that learning, wit, sophistry, and zeal could do, was done 
to effect it. But, sir, as we are old enough to remember the commence- 
ment of the struggle, we have lived long enough to witness the victory. 
Did the attempt succeed 1 Let Bible societies witness. Has Chris- 
tianity lost its hold upon the public mind 1 Let missionary societies 
witness. Never, sir, did our religion receive such honours as at the 
present moment. Kings do homage to her, and nobles call her bless- 
Vol. I. 8 


ed. The poor man casts his mite, and the rich his gold, into the ex- 
chequer of heaven ; and all ranks, to the confusion of infidels, proclaim 
a strengthened belief in the divinity and efficacy of our Gospel. This, 
sir, is a triumph, a glorious triumph ; but I mention it principally be- 
cause of a particular result. Christianity has now assumed an offen- 
sive attitude- She no longer waits the attack; but carries the war 
into the camp of the enemy. She calls every Christian into the field, 
in preparation for her grand assault upon the heathen world. And, sir, 
if we did not desert her standards, when her enemies were shouting 
an anticipated triumph, and when, to some persons, the contest ap- 
peared doubtful, we shall not desert them now, when the battle is 
turned to the gate. When victory crowns our banners, even cowards 
would be brave. 

I beg leave, sir, to advert to a circumstance which is of considerable 
importance, as it relates to what appears, at least to my mind, an evi- 
dent indication of Providence in favour of missions. Had the mis- 
sionary spirit, which now pervades these islands, been excited in a 
country embosomed in the midst of the European continent, without a 
navy or maritime connections, it is difficult to conceive how any effi- 
cient plans for the instruction of the healhen could have been devised; 
however great the zeal of the inhabitants, the heathen could have re- 
ceived little from them beside their good wishes. But this spirit has 
been excited in Great Britain, the country to whom God has given the 
ocean ; whose colonies extend to every quarter of the globe ; whose 
vessels crowd every port of every shore ; and whose sons speak 
almost all the languages of the babbling earth. Such a coincidence 
between our duties and our opportunities, our wishes and our means, 
cannot be overlooked. It is more than accidental. It is the finger of 
God pointing out our way. Our vessels are wafted by his winds to 
every clime, that they may carry not only our merchandise, but qui 
missionaries ; not only our bales, but our blessings ; that 

"Where Britain's power is seen, 
Mankind may feel her mercy too." 

Such an application of our maritime means will consecrate our com. 
merce, perhaps fix it. You, sir, a commercial man, need not be told 
that commerce is volatile and inconstant ;. that she has often removed 
her emporiums ; and that, in many places, the once crowded port is 
resigned to the net of the fisherman. But in those places commerce 
was never seen in connection with religion. She was made the hand- 
maid of wealth, but not of charity. Let us, sir, make her the instru- 
ment of both ; and, as the ancients with their gods in time of danger, 
we shall throw chains about her, and fix the fugitive to our shores 
for ever. 

In opposition to such efforts as have been this day recommended, I 
can anticipate but one objection from any person bearing the name of 
a Christian. It is, that charity begins at home. I will not dispute the 
sentiment : it is entitled to some respect. It has passed into a pro- 
verb ; and bears the aspect of hoary venerableness. It is a neat pocket 
edition of selfishness, and very convenient to the wearer. I should 
be very sorry to deprive him of it ; and shall therefore only observe, 
that our purposes and plans are not inconsistent with this principle ; 


and that, in a word, charity to the heathen is charity begun at 

This is not difficult to prove. We cannot take a step toward evan- 
gelizing the heathen without entering into many inquiries as to the 
extent of their moral wretchedness ; and such inquiries -are eminently 
useful to ourselves. In our present state we are seldom brought to 
value our own blessings, but by their loss, or by comparing our con- 
dition with that of others. By the loss of our religious privileges, I 
hope we shall never learn their value. But if, by comparing our light 
with the darkness of the heathen, our riches with their poverty, we 
learn to prize these blessings more, and to use them better ; then, 
sir ; missionary efforts will prove a blessing to us, to our societies, to 
our country; and charity to the heathen will be charity begun at home. 

Much more might be urged in proof of the important moral effects 
produced at home, by sending the Gospel abroad, which I forbear : but 
I cannot omit to remark, that our feelings have a value ; and I doubt 
not but every person in this assembly, who consults his feelings this 
day, is ready to acknowledge that charity is already begun at home, 
even in his own bosom. The pleasure we have in attempting to do 
good, the joy we feel in anticipating success, the good effects produced 
upon our minds by the prayers whieh we are excited, by meetings like 
this, to offer for others, are all home blessings. And if charity at home 
stands in so intimate a connection with charity abroad, let it then flow 
forth from ourselves to others, unchecked either by sordid maxims, or 
by sordid feelings. 

I shall conclude, sir, with observing, that as we expect, on the best 
grounds, that God will go with us to this our great work, so we have 
the same reason to believe that he has gone before us, to prepare our 
way. This expectation is not an imaginary one. Heaven never gives 
an important blessing, without first preparing the receiver for it. Thus, 
when he first gave his incarnate Son to the world, a secret influence 
upon the nations raised an expectation of the great Deliverer. If, 
therefore, God is about to give his Son again to the heathen world, in 
his glorious Gospel, we cannot doubt that he is preparing it for the 
gift. He moves upon the Christian world to give, and upon the pagan 
world to receive. As in a long drought, before the rain is sent from 
heaven,- the earth breaks into wide clefts, to catch the falling streams ,- 
so a sinful world is prepared, by its very wants, for the blessings of 
our religion. Formerly the attention of the world was directed to the 
rising light of the east ; but the lamp of day has long left that quarter 
of the globe, and the expecting nations now turn to the west for the 
rising of the moral sun. They turn to us for light ; and we will not 
refuse them. To many of them we are bound by gratitude. We re- 
ceived our light from them ; and it remains with us, while they sit in 
darkness. .But, sir, they begin to feel their wants. They say, " Give 
as of your oil ; for our lamps are gone out :" and, thank God, there is 
enough for us and them. We have stepped into their privileges ; we 
partake of the root and fatness of the olive, from which they have been 
broken; and while the olive is planted in the midst of us, we cannot 
lack the oil. Let it then be poured from vessel to vessel, till every 
extinguished lamp flames afresh, and the temple of the whole universe 
is filled with the brightness of the knowledge of the glory of God-. 


The example of the Methodists at Leeds and Halifax was quickly 
followed by their brethren at Hull, Sheffield, and Wakefield,- where 
missionary meetings were held, and societies regularly organized, for 
the purpose of raising pecuniary supplies to send the Gospel of God 
to heathen nations. Mr. Watson lent his assistance at each of these 
places ; and his sermons and speeches produced an indelible impres- 
sion. The following notices concerning his sermon and the meeting at 
Hull have been kindly supplied by the Rev. John Beecham : — 

" I heard Mr. Watson on that occasion for the first time. He preach* 
ed on the forenoon of the day of the meeting, in George-yard chapel; 
from, ' And I saw another angel fly in the midst of the heaven, having 
the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and 
to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,' Rev. xiv, 6. . This 
subject afforded full scope for his powers. The dignity of his person 
and manner bespoke attention ; and he unfolded the design of prophecy, 
established the necessity of a human ministry of the Gospel, of which 
he regarded the flying angel as an emblem, and enlarged on the uni- 
versality of the Gospel scheme, in a strain of sublime eloquence, which 
produced in me such feelings of awe and hallowed delight, as I can 
never forget. And the effect of his discourse, it was manifest, was 
general. On glancing at the congregation, all appeared to sit with their 
eyes rivetted on the speaker, and listening with almost breathless atten- 
tion. It was in that sermon Mr. Watson delivered the fine passage 
which was so frequently quoted afterward on similar occasions : ' The 
Bible society has rolled a noble stream of truth through the earth; but 
that is not enough : we must send missionaries to stand upon its banks, 
and cry, Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters !' Many 
were present at that time who, like myself, had gone from a consider- 
able distance for the purpose of attending the meeting. These, on 
their return, spread abroad the fame of the preacher's greatness ; and 
when Mr. Watson was stationed in Hull the following year,- it was 
no uncommon thing for persons to visit Hull from distant places 
in Lincolnshire, in order to have the gratification of hearing him 

On the 26th of November, this year,- a missionary meeting was held 
in Sheffield, and a society organized. Mr. Watson was present, and 
related an anecdote of a poor woman who had distinguished herself by 
her pious zeal in the good work. " A woman at Wakefield," said he, 
" well known to be in rather needy circumstances, came to a lady, one 
of the collectors, and offered to subscribe a penny per week in aid of 
the Methodist missionary society. It was immediately said to her, 
' Surely you are too poor to afford it.' She replied, ' I spin so many 
hanks of yarn every week for a maintenance. I will spin one more; 
and that will be a penny for the society.' I would rather see that hank 
suspended in the poor woman's cottage, a token of her zeal for the 
Gospel, than military trophies in the halls of heroes. In them I should 
only see the proud memorials of victories obtained over the physical 
strength of man ; but in the other I behold the triumph of a generous 
religion over the natural selfishness of a human heart." 

In the year 1833, at the anniversary of the Missionary society for 
the Sheffield district, Mr. Montgomery gave the following account of 
this occasion, and of the impression made upon his mind by Mr. Wat- 


eon's eloquence : — " I am reminded by the presence of an honoured 
minister and friend, the Rev. Jabez Bunting, that it is nearly twenty 
years since, on a dreary, chill November day, in an assembly far thinner 
than the present, and less animated, the missionary society for this 
district was established. I had the privilege to take a share in the 
proceedings, and to assist with my feebleness in laying the foundation 
of this evangelical institution. On that occasion Mr. Bunting and Mr. 
Watson were deputed from the zealous band of innovators, who had 
ventured, in the provinces, to project, and to advocate from town to 
town, before it had obtained metropolitan sanction, the comprehensive 
plan of supplying funds for the support and extension of Wesleyan 
missionary labours, upon a scale far more magnificent than it had been 
possible to conduct them while their maintenance depended principally 
upon the personal exertions of Dr. Coke. I then first saw and heard 
Mr. Watson. But while my expectations, from reported speeches in 
the newspapers, had been highly raised, they were not entirely met ; 
there was so much temperance in the tone, and so little ardour in the 
delivery of his sentiments ; yet even then they made a deeper impres- 
sion than I was aware of at the time. They recurred to me again and 
again in solitude. Mr. Watson, in fact, wore so well on acquaintance, 
that neither a first nor a second sight or hearing of him gave half the 
idea of his peculiar powers ; which seemed to enlarge and improve 
with every fresh trial of their influence upon our understanding and 
affections. However, the occasion alluded to left an indelible memo- 
rial of his person, his manner, and the fact which he described. He 
mentioned, that an aged matron, having heard of the new thing in Me- 
thodism which was then so much talked of in the west riding of York- 
shire, grew anxious to have a hand in it herself, and to contribute out 
of her deep poverty something toward sending the religion of Jesus 
Christ to the heathen. Through hard and slow labour, indifferently 
paid, she earned a scanty subsistence by worsted spinning. She re- 
solved to spin an extra hank a week, and throw the two mites which 
she should receive for it into the missionary funds. What she so 
generously resolved, she painfully accomplished, by sacrificing no in- 
considerable portion of her brief leisure and her spare strength in this 
work of faith and labour of love. I have Mr. Watson in my eye at this 
moment. The picture is perfect in my remembrance, as he stood on 
the bench before me : while realizing the scene, as though we had all 
been with him in the widow's cottage, he pointed to the single hank, 
suspended from a rafter of the ceiling. I can never forget his attitude 
nor his look. ' She hath done what she could,' was the feeling of every 
one of his audience ; and while the eloquent advocate expatiated on 
the value of such an offering, made in singleness of heart to the Lord, 
neither he nor his hearers, nor the humble contributor herself, were at 
that time aware of its value in influence as an example of what others 
in imitation would be stirred up to do in the same way ; for I believe 
this was the first precedent of innumerable instances in which the 
poorest, the weakest, and the meanest in outward respects, have taxed 
their ingenuity as well as their industry to find out means whereby 
they could aid the same blessed cause. Indeed, these devices have 
been so frequently and so successfully practised, — each in turn operat- 
ing as an incentive and an encouragement to others, — that, even in a 


pecuniary sense, the poor widow's two mites may have produced a 
talent of gold to the missionary funds." 

At the meeting which was held in Wakefield in the course of the 
following winter, thanks were voted to Mr. Watson for the address to 
the public which he had drawn up, on the subject of the Wesleyan 
missions, and which was then in extensive and beneficial circulation. 
In acknowledging this vote he spoke to the following effect : — 

I wish, sir, that I had better deserved the thanks of this respectable 
meeting ; and that the address had been penned by hands more able to 
do justice to the great cause it was designed to promote. The motion 
which has just passed has, however, given me great pleasure ; not be- 
cause a very humble attempt of mine was the subject of it ; but because 
the favourable manner in which that attempt has been received proves 
that a very lively interest must have been excited in favour of our mis- 
sions. It convinces me, sir, of the warm regard which the society has 
for the great end of its institution, when means so insignificant are 
honoured with its approbation. 

From a subject which concerns myself I gladly hasten to one which 
concerns us all ; — the institution we are assembled to support. It has 
already existed long enough to convince us of its beneficial character, 
and probable important results. Independent of the aid which the mis? 
sionary cause will derive from it, there is sufficient reason to induce 
us to support it from the moral good it has produced among ourselves. 
The discussions and inquiries to which it has given rise have taught 
us to think more closely on the state of the heathen, the nature and 
efficacy of the Gospel system, and the obligations of Christians to dif- 
fuse their Divine religion. Our sympathies have been excited, our 
prayers have acquired greater fervour, and a new path of honourable 
duty has been set before u§. In addition to this the establishment of 
our society has called into an active co-operation with Jesus Christ, 
and with his servants abroad, a great number of persons at home, who, 
but for the arrangements of the institution, would have been deprived 
of the opportunity they have so promptly embraced to show their love 
to his Gospel. In this band our cause has received a seasonable and 
valuable reinforcement. This district alone has added a regiment to 
the service ; and Avhen, as we hope, similar institutions are adopted by 
the connection at large, a whole division will be added to the armies 
of Christ. They themselves derive much good from these labours of 
love ; but we as affording the most essential service to the common 
cause. They are our light troops who spread themselves over the 
country, and establish the magazines, and provide the sustenance re- 
quired by those who are in immediate hostile contact with the enemies 
of God, and who are boldly displaying the red-cross banner of our 
religion in the sight of the heathen. I am sure that under a sense of 
their important services we shall all pray that their number may be 
increased, and that they may labour and faint not. 

If I may be permitted to trespass upon your time a little longer, in 
expatiating upon the excellent effects resulting from this institution, I 
may add, that it is not among the smallest of its consequences, that 
our efforts and objects have excited discussion among those who are 
little favourable to religion. It is true, sjr, they have assailed us with 


all the little wit they have ; and indignant vituperation, or fleering con- 
tempt, has not been spared. But, sir, they have talked about the Gos- 
pel, and missionary plans, and Christianity, and paganism ; and in this 
fact we rejoice. Christianity (and the cause of missions is the cause 
of Christianity) is never so inefficient as when it is neglected ; and we 
had rather, on this account, see it assailed with enmity than overlooked. 
No conviction can be wrought in those who are indifferent. Viewed 
by a careless eye, our religion may be concluded to be a cloud, a va- 
pour ; but let it be attacked, and it will be found a rock ; and the force 
which resists, and tarns the weapon, does often secretly convince the 
assailant, though he be too proud at once to confess it, that he is op- 
posing an awful and sublime reality. It is of importance, therefore, 
that the zealous efforts of Christians in our day to spread the Gospel 
has turned the thoughts of men without religion to some of its most in- 
teresting truths. They may have treated these truths in a manner 
rude and ungracious ; but still we have gained a point. They have 
thought about them ; and the possibility is, that when the thoughts are 
once turned into this channel, they may be carried farther than was 
intended. Opponents of truth will always meet its defenders ; and it 
seems the peculiar genius of Christianity, that it can never be brought 
near a human mind without exerting some influence upon it. It never 
fails to awaken principles in the soul, which will render to it secret 

By some persons, and those professing respect to our common 
religion, it has been said that we are carried away by a missionary 
mania ; in other words, that we are mad. We need be at no loss, sir, 
whether to consider this charge as a censure or a compliment. I 
consider it a compliment of the best kind. It is true, we are all 
anxious to preserve the honours of our rationality ; and there is 
nothing we usually feel more sensibly than attacks upon our intellects. 
It will, however, give little pain to those who enter with ardour into 
the missionary cause to be thought mad by such as make the pur- 
poses of the Gospel, and the plans of Heaven, a very small part of 
their study. We cannot wonder that, to those sober-minded Chris- 
tians who scarcely are disturbed whether truth or error go foremost 
in the world, the feelings and actions of those who zealously sup- 
port missions to the heathen should appear indications of a species of 
wild though amiable insanity. All subjects connected with missions 
tend to familiarize us so much with the vast designs of Deity himself, 
and the ample plans of his providence, they raise the soul to so lofty a 
mount of contemplation, spread before us so wide a prospect, and 
kindle so vigorous and daring a zeal, that our purposes seem to catch 
something of infinity, and to be greatly out of proportion to our means 
and strength. For, what are the purposes we form, what the ends we 
are aiming at, in our exertions ? To shut those idol temples ; to rear 
up those abject worshippers ; to chase the forms of error from their 
minds, and the fiends of passion from their hearts ; to reclaim the 
savage from his woods ; to lay the foundations of civil society in 
morals ; to break the fetters from the slave ; to bind in amity the dif- 
ferent orders of society ; to banish wars from the earth ; and to restore 
the human family to peace, and to God. These are our familiar con- 
ception? ; and they may have, perhaps they must have, to some minds 


the air of madness. We do not, however, forget, sir, that St. Paul 
appeared to be beside himself to Festus ; and yet the madness of St. 
Paul gave the death blow to Roman idolatry. A few disciples in an 
obscure room at Jerusalem waited for a commission to evangelize all 
nations. The magnitude of their conceptions, like ours, ill accorded 
with appearances ; yet the plan was realized. It may be said, they 
were apostles and evangelists ; and so are our missionaries. For, 
what is an apostle hut a messenger ; and what is an evangelist but a 
preacher of the Gospel ? But it may be replied, " The Lord was 
with them ;" and, sir, he is with us. The promise which then dropped 
from his lips now shines in the holy page; and Providence has 
handed it down to us, to assure us that it is a promise to us as well as 
to them. 

But, says one, " Suppose you fail in this work :" and, sir, were we 
to fail, it would still be more glorious and honourable to ; .ttempt, than, 
with some sober-minded persons, to fold our arms, and s offer perish- 
ing myriads to cry for help in vain. We will go farther. Perhaps 
in some of our objects we shall fail. We neither promise ourselves 
nor others all the success we hope. Duty is ours ; events belong to 
God. The Divine Being seldom accomplishes even our own purposes 
in our own way. His wisdom is. not to be directed by human views ; 
and he works out his plans by our disappointment, that no flesh may 
glory in his presence. But though we may fail in particular purposes, 
we cannot fail in the general result. Our labours, though not con- 
nected with the Divine plans in our own way, are yet connected with 
them. We can do nothing in vain. Every thing must have its effect ; 
and, though unseen to us, must prosper. Our attempts may seem 
sometimes to be lost ; and we ought to prepare ourselves for such 
apparent disappointments ; but they will be lost only as some streams 
are lost in the earth. They run on their course invisibly, till they 
unexpectedly break forth again into day, and give verdure to the 

I conclude^ sir, with expressing my confidence, that when the veil 
of mortality is withdrawn, and the value of immortal souls shall be 
more clearly demonstrated than can be done in this present state, when 
the realities of heaven and hell shall appear unshaded before us, not 
the most zealous among us, no, not the missionary himself, who wears 
out health and life in his work, will think he has done too much to pror 
mote the salvation of the souls of men. 

While Mr. Watson was attentive to the official duties connected 
with his circuit, and ready to afford assistance in forming missionary 
societies, he was also mindful of the claims of private friendship. The 
following letters, which he wrote during his residence in the Wake? 
field circuit, contain some important sentiments, and serve to illustrate 
his personal history. The former of them shows that his health wa§ 
still delicate, and that he was subject to serious attacks of illness. 

To Messrs. Makinson and WatJcin, of Manchester. 

My Very Dear Friends Makinson and Watkin, — If you have 
not received an epistle from me, it was not because I was inattentive 
to my engagement, or insensible to the pleasure of corresponding with 


friends so highly regarded ; but because I have not been able, after 
repeated efforts, to turn logic into a subject of correspondence in the 
mode we devised. I have two unfinished letters by me, on different 
plans; and one contains no less than three folio pages, of demy size, 
of illustrations, chemical and botanical, where I could find them, of 
being, substance, modes, ideas, &c. But, after all, though I amused 
myself, and perhaps impressed the distinctions of Aristotle upon my own 
thoughts, I could not perceive the possibility of a plan of communi- 
cating together in our logical studies, to any valuable purpose. After 
we have got through logic, and enter upon metaphysics, I think we 
may do it to much profit, by proposing difficulties, and requiring 
illustrations. For perhaps it may be better to take many things for 
granted now, in order to get acquainted with the terms and subtleties 
of the art, than to stop and examine them step by step. Otherwise, 
many questions arise out of every chapter in logic ; and I had, in fact, 
penned down some ; but I thought them premature. Having, therefore, 
given up my letter on logic, and yet being anxious to hear from you, 
and to be heard also. I purposed to write a friendly line, to say that 
I had not been guilty of inattention, and to express my hope that your 
plans had been more successful. I have been, however, for a few 
days prevented from this by a severe fit of sickness. To-day makes 
the seventh day of my absolute confinement, from a fever, the result of 
cold ; and logic and languages have been suspended by libations and 
refrigerants. I write, even now, against advice ; but the pleasure of 
thinking of the parties addressed will, I am sure, outweigh the incon- 
venience which may arise out of the act of writing. 

You see how God continues to deal with me ; — graciously, if that 
word of his be true, " Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth ;" 
and there is no truth in God's holy book that I believe more firmly. 
To him, therefore, I am laid under a new obligation ; because, in his 
intent at least, a good has been proposed, whatever the real effect may 
be upon me. With this exception, I have gone through the work of 
the circuit without any omissions ; though owing to my taking a suc- 
cession of colds, with some difficulty. 

You will be charmed with the country, when you come over at 
Christmas ; for even then I think it will have some power to please. 
The leaf will be withered, and the flower have been cut down ; but 
the firm tree itself will grace the hill, and the swell of mountain 
and dale will still diversify the landscape. Thus may virtue continue 
with us, when we can command the stay of grace and ornament no 
longer ; and thus, in the winter of affliction, may the great principles 
on which all true happiness is built remain unshaken ; and the less 
reason will there then be to regret a change in circumstances and 
objects which flourish and fade without any necessary connection 
with the best state of our best nature, in time or in eternity. 

Great languor obliges me to draw to a close. You have my best 
wishes ; and if they can avail you, my prayers too. They may pro- 
mote my union with you, if they have not much power with God. Let 
me share in yours. Persevere, my dear friends, in the path which the 
example and precepts of Christ exhibit. To improve our minds 
in the most excellent knowledge of him, and thus to grow in grace, 
in wisdom ; to beg of him that animating Spirit, which only can give 



energy to knowledge, and draw forth its influence upon the will and 
affections ; and, in subservience to these ends, or at least not in con- 
tradiction to them, to explore, as time and talent may enable, the mys- 
teries of human science ; and to cultivate those social tempers which 
stand in the next rank to religious character ; — these are some of our 
principal duties and best ends. He that succeeds best does best ; and 
in this work there is no hazard. We can command success; for 
the peculiar prerogative of good men is, — and it is assigned by One 
who uses no unmeaning compliments, — " Whatsoever he doeth shall 

Write to me soon ; and if you can, send me a plan of communica- 
tion upon logical subjects ; and I will gladly attempt to follow it. We 
shall certainly expect, you both at Christmas. Mrs, Watson joins me 
in affectionate remembrance. 

This letter appears to have been written in the month of Novem- 
ber, 1813. 

To Mr William Makinson, Manchester. 

My Very Dear Friend, — Knowing how zealously you are opposed 
to innovations, and particularly to such of them as tend to introduce 
new modes of thinking and speaking upon religious subjects, I send 
you the following arguments against the substitution of " who " for 
" which" in the invocation of the Lord's prayer. They are taken from 
an old Gentleman's Magazine for 1754, and, consequently, scarce. I 
can only give you the bare arguments, without the amplifications. 

1. The application of " which" to persons is pure English. This 
appears from all our old writers ; and from " which" being used in this 
sense in the liturgy, in the translation of the Bible by Wickliffe, by 
Cranmer, in another in Queen Elizabeth's time, and in our present 

2. The writers of the liturgy, and the translators of these Bibles, 
knew the English language. 

3. The Latin relative qui, and the relatives il quali, and le quel, in the 
Italian and French, are applied both to persons and things. 

4. It may be doubted whether "which" be so purely a relative as 
" who" is, but rather an elliptical way of speaking ; e. g. the words, 
" Being the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli," Luke iii, 23, I 
conceive may be filled up thus : " Being the son of Joseph, which Jo- 
seph was the' son of Heli ;" in which case you cannot, with any tole- 
rable proprietv, substitute "who" for "which." So in the prayer, 
" Our Father," &c, the full locution would be, " Our Father, which 
Father art in heaven." 

5. From hence, I conjecture, arose the expression, "the which," 
which, though not elegant, cannot be denied to be pure English. This 
phrase, when used of a person, which it is sometimes, is manifestly 
demonstrative, and requires the supply of the preceding proper name ; 
and, in that case, you cannot substitute " who," and say " the who." 
In Hearne's Antiquities you have " which Walter." 

6. There are other cases in which " who" cannot be used for " which ;" 
as, " unto which of all us," 2 Kings ix, 5 ; and * which of you," &c, 
Luke xiv, 5. Valet propositio. 


To this, our good friend, a writer replies in the next Magazine, that 
though " which" may be used when we speak of a third person, and 
perhaps may be justified as an ellipsis, yet when it is part of an invo- 
cation, it would be improper. E. g. li I will call upon the Lord, which 
is worthy to be praised," may be filled up, " which Lord is worthy to 
be praised ;" but if we say, " I will call upon thee, O Lord, which Lord 
art worthy to be praised," the impropriety is apparent. " Which Lord" 
can never be a part of an invocation, being in the third person. 

To this gentleman the advocate for " which" rejoins, that " which" 
can be applied to a second person appears from Acts xv, 23 : " The 
apostles send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles. 
We have heard that certain men," &c, " have troubled you," &c. See 
also Acts i, 24 ; and Rom. ii, 23 ; in which latter passage it is evident 
that the scholars of that age understood the expression, " which teach- 
est," and " that teachest," as tantamount and equally pure. 

So far my author. The sum of the whole, I think, is, that the best 
authorities among our old writers support the application of " which" 
to persons as well as things ; and though it should, in the improved 
state of language, be imposed upon us to discriminate in the use of 
" who" and " which," yet that will not justify the alteration in the re- 
petition of the Lord's prayer, any more than it would justify it in read- 
ing it from our translation ; for if we admit of oral amendments ad 
libitum, then you may sometimes hear a preacher in your pulpit ad- 
dressing himself in his prayer to " the Father of lights, in whom there 
is no parallax or tropical shadow ;" * or giving out his text, " A certain 
gentleman had a vineyard ;" or demonstrating by the violence of his 
action, that the curse is fallen upon him, and that he " eats his bread 
by the perspiration of his brow ;" or threatening that, if you are luke- 
warm, he will " emit you from his mouth." 

To conclude. I hope soon to see you, which will give me great 
pleasure. I have not time now to write to Mr. Watkin ; which Mr. 
Watkin did send me a pamphlet, for which I return him my thanks. 


Restoration of Peace in Europe — Mr. Watson's Sermon on that Occasion — Mis- 
sionary Societies formed in various Places— Mr. "Watson's Zeal in the Missiona- 
ry Cause — Diversity of Opinion concerning Missionary Meetings — Decision of 
Conference on the Subject— Influence of Missionary Meetings upon the Method- 
ist Connection — Mr. Watson's Conduct in his Circuit — Reproof to an impatient 
Hearer — Removal to the Hull Circuit — Opening of a new Chapel in Hull — Mr. 
Watson's Usefulness — His Views of congregational Singing— Letter to Mr. Wal. 
ton, of Wakefield — Missionary Meeting in London — Letter to Mr. Walton— Tale 
of Robbery— Death of Dr. Coke— Mr. Watson opens the new Chapel at Newark 
— Attack upon him in one of the Hull Newspapers — His Letter in self defence 
—Letter to Mr. Walton— Mr. Watson's Conduct as a Colleague— Providential 

While Mr. Watson was diligent in the discharge of his ministerial 
and pastoral duties, alive to the spiritual necessities of the heathen, 
and not forgetful of the claims of private friendship, his loyal and patri- 

* This translation, it will be recollected, was proposed by Gilbert Wakefield. 


otic mind could not be indifferent to the circumstances of the nation. 
The times were more than ordinarily eventful. The war which arose 
out of the French revolution seemed to be hastening to a crisis, and 
the resources of this country were in a great measure exhausted. This 
fierce and tremendo'us conflict had been maintained for many years, 
at an immense expense, both of treasure and blood ; and almost every 
continental nation had been a scene of devastation and carnage. But 
a brighter day was beginning to dawn upon Europe ; and the man who 
had long been a terror and a scourge was about to become an object 
of pity, and, after the example of the Macedonian madman and the 
Swede, to 

" Leave a name at which the world grew pale, 
To point a moral, or adorn a tale." 

In the spring of the year 1814 the emperor of Russia and the king 
of Prussia entered Paris, at the head of their victorious armies ; while 
Wellington, who had annihilated the French power in Portugal and 
Spain, was approaching the same capital in an opposite direction. Na- 
poleon, who had been completely vanquished in the field, was sent into 
exile ; the Bourbon dynasty was recalled to the throne of France ; and 
the peace of Europe was restored. The general joy which these 
events occasioned was indescribable ; the interposition of Providence 
was almost every where acknowledged ; and a day of public thanks- 
giving to Almighty God was appointed by the government of England, 
As Bonaparte was dethroned, there appeared no probability of the re- 
newal of hostilities ; and hence a peace, at once profound and perma- 
nent, was anticipated. Mr. Watson preached on this joyful occasion, 
both at Leeds and Wakefield ; a service for which he was well quali- 
fied, by his sound political principles, his accurate knowledge of public 
affairs, and his habits of discriminating and philosophic thought ; and, 
in compliance with the wishes of his friends, he committed his dis- 
course to the press, under the title of, " A Sermon, preached at the 
Methodist Chapel, Wakefield, and at the Old Chapel, Leeds, on Thurs- 
day, the seventh day of July, being the day appointed for a General 
Thanksgiving to Almighty God, for the Restoration of Peace. Pub- 
lished by Request, 1814." This discourse is every way worthy of 
the author. It contains many just and striking sentiments ; and not a 
few passages which are remarkable for their powerful and commanding 

In reference to the principle of patriotism the preacher says, " I 
am, I confess, no admirer of that universal civism, that citizenship of 
the world, which under the pretence of extending kind feelings to all 
men, would extinguish our partialities for our own country. This kind 
of philosophy may sneeringly ask, why I should love the people on 
the other side of a river, or a chain of mountains, more than those on 
this side ? my own countrymen more than others 1 The question may 
be answered by another, ' Why should I love my own family more than 
others V Heaven designed it, and formed our natures for the reception 
of such particular affections. They arise from associations of ideas 
which cannot be controlled without the most unnatural violence. But 
as my particular affection for my own friends is no reason why I should 


hate others, the Avarmest patriotism is not at all irreconcilable with 
universal charity." 

With regard to the national honour which was left unstained at the 
termination of the war, Mr. Watson says, " Peace is a blessing which 
we have in common with other nations, our allies ; but this we have 
peculiar to ourselves, that we never, like them, co-operated with the 
enemy of the repose of the world in his aggressions upon the rights and 
peace of mankind. Either from force or choice there is not a state, 
freed in the last struggle from the grasp of France, which has not 
stained its character, by joining, at some period of the contest, with that 
ambitious power to bind the yoke upon the neck of its neighbour. All 
have in turn marched in the track of the tyrant, and in different degrees 
shared his guilt. But as to ourselves, it is an inspiring thought, and 
one that calls for our gratitude, that we have been preserved from this 
infamy. Our strength and wealth have been employed to rescue 
nations, not to oppress them ; we have been their refuge, not their rod. 
By the blessing of God, and the prayers of the faithful, we have gone 
through the contest, and are come out of it with a high and unstained 
character ; and if character be strength, the peace is doubly endeared to 
us by the consideration, that it presents this to us among its other 
exhibited blessings. This is the valuable legacy we shall leave 
to the next age ; and we trust even in this to derive the most important 
advantages from it. We hope the influence created by the character 
and conduct of this country will be employed to control animosities, 
and to make the peace permanent. That it will be exerted in favour of 
the enslaved African, till a system of robbery and murder, so long the 
reproach of Christendom, shall be eternally and universally abolished ; 
and that it will, in no ordinary degree, aid the attempts which are so 
generally making, by the Christians of Great Britain, to evangelize 
the world." 

The abolition of the accursed traffic inhuman beings is thus touched 
upon : " The interest we are now taking in the universal abolition of 
the slave trade cannot fail to remind us, that, during the conflict, and 
while we were under the rod of God, we renounced as a nation all 
participation in that detestable traffic. That it was ever sanctioned by 
our legislature constituted a great national offence ; a blot broad and 
black upon our statutes and our character. This only can be said in 
palliation, that the atrocities of that system of outrage were for a long 
time unknown to the body of the people. The scenes of its barbarities 
were laid in distant lands, or on the lonely ocean. The shriek of ter- 
ror extorted by the appearance of the man hunter was given to the 
mountain winds ; and the murmurs of the sufferer, as he was dragged 
across the waters, were uttered only to the waves. The islands whose 
ancient solitudes were disturbed by the sounds of the manacle and the 
lash were visited by few but the interested ; and the miseries of an in- 
jured portion of our race were thus kept from the public view. When, 
however, by the activity of men, whose names are ever to be honoured, 
the wrongs of Africa reached our ears, and were spread before our sight, 
they successfully appealed to those principles which Christianity had 
implanted in the country ; and after a struggle, not long but sharp, 
with wicked selfishness and stupid ignorance, the cause of humanity 
triumphed. Now no inhabitant of Africa lifts up enchained hands to 


us, to say in the meek but piercing language of reproach, ' Am I not a 
man and a brother V Certainly our joy at this reflection is damped by 
an unhappy article in the treaty ; yet the public and the legislature 
have both freed themselves from all participation in the act. The 
friends of humanity have acquired even from this additional energy to 
press to the completion of all their hopes ; and we doubt not but the 
spirit manifested and sustained in Great Britain on this subject will 
eventually remove this reproach from Christendom, and proclaim an 
eternal jubilee to the continent of Africa." 

In concluding this truly eloquent and patriotic discourse, Mr. Watson 
adverts to his favourite subject, — the spread of Christianity in pagan 
lands. " Do we shudder at the idea of the rekindling of the torch of 
discord, and the renewal of the devastations of war ? Is it the earnest 
wish of our souls that the peace may be eternal ; that the sword may 
gleam in the eyes of men no more ; and that the earth may never 
more be moistened except by the dews of heaven ; that the final 
reign of the Prince of Peace may commence,- and ' quietness and 
assurance for ever' become the lot of man ? We all can contribute 
something to these glorious results ; and it is our duty to contribute 
all we can toward them. Let us first support the influence of religion 
in our own hearts, and light up a brighter lustre of truth and holiness 
in our example. Let us endeavour zealously and in the spirit of 
meekness to counteract all immorality in our respective neighbour- 
hoods ; and to promote the salvation of others by our advice, our influ- 
ence, and our prayers. Let us become the fervent advocates and active 
supporters of all such institutions among us as are directed to the reforma- 
tion and instruction of our country ; of schools, of Bible and tract societies, 
and of home missions. Let us go farther ; let us be unwearied in carry- 
ing into effect the great plan of evangelizing the world, which the charity 
inspired by the Gospel has dictated to the minds of British Christians. 
By these means we shall best promote universal peace ; the peace 
of nations, the peace of families, the peace of individuals ; peace 
with each other, peace with ourselves, peace with God. For purposes 
of this kind we can depend but little upon political arrangements. The 
world can only be made happy by the diffusion of moral principles ; 
and the Gospel only can effectually diffuse them. Go, then, system 
of mercy ! Take to thyself the wings of our beneficence, and fly to the 
uttermost parts of the earth. Go on thy errand of love, sped by our 
bounty and our prayers. Confront the misleading errors of false reli- 
gion and banish them from human minds. Go, testify to every fallen 
child of Adam, that God is love. Bear thy message of mercy every 
where and say, ' Whosoever will, let him come and take of the waters 
of life freely.' We have ' peace on earth ;' but go and breathe thy 
soft and peaceful spirit into men's hearts. Teach kings moderation, 
and their subjects order ; destroy the causes of war in their fountain, 
the human heart ; and bring the desolations of the world to a perpetual 
end ! Go, from conquest to conquest ; and may thy triumphs never end 
while there is a nation on the globe to bless, or a soul among its count- 
less myriads to save ! To God, the author of peace, be ascribed glory 
and dominion for ever. Amen." 

In the cultivation of this spirit of universal charity Mr. Watson was not 
peculiar. Many months were not suffered to elapse, after missionary 


societies had been formed in the Leeds, Halifax, Hull, and Sheffield 
districts, before similar institutions were organized in York, Beverley, 
Bridlington, Patrington, Bingley, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Cornwall. 
The people were impatient to unite their energies for the furtherance 
of the cause of Christ in heathen countries ; and were unwilling to 
wait till the judgment of conference should be ascertained respecting 
this new mode of raising pecuniary supplies. Mr. Watson lent his 
very efficient aid at several of these places, in conjunction with his 
friend Mr. Bunting, whose zeal and energy were equal to those of his 
distinguished associate, and justly entitled him to the highest praise. 
At Newcastle Mr. Watson's sermon was thought to surpass that which 
he had delivered at Leeds ; and many persons united in requesting its 
publication. This, however, he peremptorily refused ; and at the 
same time he stated to a friend, that he repented of having published 
the sermon just mentioned; as he had been heartily ashamed of it ever 
since it had appeared in print. So humble were the views which he 
entertained of his own abilities, that while every one wondered at his 
powers both of thought and expression, and hung upon his lips with 
silent admiration, he seemed to be unconscious of any thing peculiar 
in himself; and the attention of his mind was entirely absorbed in the 
great work of extending the knowledge of Christ to the ends of the 
earth. His conviction of the perilous state of the heathen, of the 
obligation of Christians to attempt their conversion, and of the certain 
success of the measures then in operation, was deep and influential. 
The cries of the heathen seemed to be perpetually sounding in his ears ; 
his heart yearned over the millions of souls perishing in ignorance and 
sin ; it seemed to be one great business of his life to rouse the Chris- 
tian community with which he was united to a sense of their duty in 
regard to the unenlightened part of mankind ; and in these truly 
Christian labours he every where met with a willing people, — a people 
in this respect prepared of the Lord, and ready, both of their abundance 
and penury, to cast into the offerings of God. All that seemed to be 
generally necessary was, to call their attention to the subject, and to 
make arrangements for receiving their pecuniary contributions with 
frequency and regularity. 

The cordiality with which many of the preachers lent their assist- 
ance at that time reflected the highest honour upon their piety and 
benevolence. The Rev. Messrs. James Wood, Reece, Atmore, War- 
rener, Brownell, Highfield, Morley, Naylor, Isaac, Buckley, Burdsall, 
Waddy, Everett, Pilter, and others, were particularly distinguished in 
this labour of love ; and several excellent laymen were equally active in 
the good cause. Of these Messrs. Thompson of Hull, Holy of Shef- 
field, Dawson of Barnbow, and Scarth of Leeds, were among the fore- 
most to advocate and support the blessed work. Some of these early 
friends of the Methodist missions are fallen asleep ; but the greater 
part remain to this day ; and their zeal has suffered no abatement. 

In the meanwhile, these proceedings, so novel in Methodism, ex- 
cited in some quarters much conversation, and great searchings of heart. 
Every one applauded the object, and acknowledged the necessity of 
increased exertions for the support of the old established Methodist 
missions, and the desirableness of commencing similar operations of 
mercy in other countries ; but several, even of the preachers, enter- 


tained serious doubts respecting the means which were employed in 
the present case. Some thought that missionary meetings were more 
calculated for display, than utility and godly edifying ; and that they 
would generate a sort of religious dissipation, and a spirit of unhallowed 
levity. Others thought that by giving such pre-eminence to the mis- 
sionary cause, the resources of the connection would be almost entirely 
directed to that one object ; and that the several departments of the 
work of God at home would languish for want of the requisite support. 
The preachers, therefore, who lent their assistance in forming socie- 
ties, and took a prominent and influential part in holding public meet- 
ings, were regarded with suspicion and jealousy. The chief responsi- 
bility rested upon Mr. Bunting, who was then a comparatively young 
man, and was the chairman of the Leeds district, where these novel 
proceedings had been commenced. He and his brethren were con- 
scious of the purity of their motives ; the facts which they witnessed 
in every place where missionary societies were formed only served to 
convince them that they were acting under the direction of Divine 
Providence ; and they waited Avith no painful alarm for the assembling 
of the. conference, when the opinions of their brethren would be de- 
clared. The urgency of the case they deemed a full justification of 
the measures which they had adopted ; and the encouragement which 
they received in various quarters inspired them with confidence. Dr. 
Coke received intelligence of the meeting at Leeds before his final 
embarkation ; and addressed a letter of acknowledgment to his friend 
Mr. Bunting, in which he expressed the highest satisfaction with the 
course which had been pursued. The Rev. Walter Griffith, who was 
then the president of the conference, and Mr. Benson and Dr. Adam 
Clarke, men of leading influence in the body, declared their cordial 
approbation of these pious and honourable exertions. 

The conference met, as usual, at the end of July ; and the mission- 
ary meetings which had been held in the course of the year became a 
subject of discussion. After an explanation of their character was 
given, and the arguments for and against them were heard, the con- 
ference adopted the following resolutions : — 

" We strongly recommend the immediate establishment of a Metho- 
dist missionary society in every district in the kingdom, (in which it 
has not been already accomplished,) on the general plan of those so- 
cieties which have been formed in Yorkshire and elsewhere during 
the past year. 

" The thanks of the conference are given to those of our preachers 
in the Leeds, Halifax, York, Sheffield, Cornwall, and Newcastle dis- 
tricts, who have been concerned in the formation of Methodist mission- 
ary societies ; and to all the members and friends of the said societies, 
for the very liberal and zealous support which they have afforded us in 
this important department of the work of God." 

In consequence of these seasonable resolutions, missionary societies 
were progressively formed in all the districts in the kingdom ; these 
were followed by branch societies in the several circuits, by associa- 
tions in connection with the different chapels ; by juvenile societies 
and ladies' associations ; and the formation of these institutions, and 
their anniversaries from year to year, brought into full and profitable 
exercise Mr. Watson's great talents as a preacher and an advocate of 


foreign missions. They presented to him such a career of useful and 
honourable toil as few men beside himself have ever been called to 
rim, and which ended only with his life. This was a kind of labour 
which he had not previously anticipated ; and his readiness in obeying 
the voice of Providence and of the Church, which so often severed 
him from his family and his studies, affords a striking illustration of his 
self denial and pious zeal. When missionary meetings became general 
among the Methodists, the great body of the preachers were expected 
to take a part in them ; and the men who had formerly contemplated 
them with disapprobation soon acknowledged their utility. It was 
interesting in many places to hear even aged and venerable men pub- 
licly retract their former opinions. One of these is remembered to 
have said, before a vast assembly, in his curt and emphatic manner, 
" God was in these meetings, and I knew it not." 

The establishment of missionary societies, and the holding of public 
meetings in connection with them, formed the commencement of a new 
era among the Wesleyan Methodists ; and the full benefit resulting 
from them it would be impossible to estimate. By these means 
authentic information respecting the state and character of heathen 
nations, and the progress of the Gospel in the world, has been widely 
extended ; in the minds of thousands the conviction of the truth and 
value of Christianity has been deepened ; the sympathies and prayers 
of multitudes have been called forth ; the blessedness of giving to pious 
and benevolent objects has been very extensively realized ; the pecuniary 
contributions have been greatly augmented, in consequence of which 
new missions have been formed, old establishments reinforced, tens of 
thousands of heathen children instructed in the truths of Christianity, 
and many wretched savages and idolaters civilized, converted, and 
saved. The leaven of truth has been deposited in various places, where 
it did not before exist ; and there is every reason to hope that it will 
ferment and spread to the latest generations. Missionary intelligence 
is extensively circulated by the agency of collectors ; and even the 
peasants, and children belonging to Sunday schools, have become ac- 
quainted with the religious and moral history of the most distant tribes 
and nations, and talk about them with perfect familiarity. The 
generality of the Methodist societies, in all parts of the united kingdom, 
feel themselves allied to converted negroes in the West Indies, to the 
pious Hottentots and Caffers in South Africa, the Hindoos and Cey- 
lonese, and the inhabitants of the South Sea Islands. During the 
lapse of twenty years these meetings have lost none of their interest ; 
and they are still generally regarded as seasons of holy joy ; for they 
call into exercise the best feelings of which the human heart is capable, 
— the love of God and the love of man. From the time at which mis- 
sionary societies and meetings were sanctioned by the conference, the 
Wesleyan connection has assumed a character more decidedly mis- 
sionary than it had previously done ; and from year to year the work 
of God abroad has fully kept pace with the progress of that work at 

No individual minister in the Methodist body, nor perhaps in any 
denomination of professing Christians, has been more distinguished by 
laborious and successful zeal in the cause of missions, and of Chris- 
tianity generally, than the Rev. Robert Newton. The probability is, 

Vol. I. 9 


that he has at least taken twice as many journeys, and collected twice 
as much money, for pious purposes, as any other minister of the age. 
Often was he associated with Mr. Watson in these most benevolent 
and useful labours. 

Mr. Watson's preaching became increasingly acceptable in the Wake- 
field circuit to the time of his removal. Almost every sermon that he 
delivered contained some profound and original views of Divine truth ; 
and the ability with which he was accustomed to defend the great 
doctrines of Christianity, and the power, fidelity, and affection with 
which he pressed them upon the belief and practical attention of his 
hearers, all tended to strengthen their attachment to his ministry, and 
augment his congregations. Nor did he labour in vain. The grand 
design of preaching was realized to a considerable extent. Many 
believers, by his instrumentality, were edified in faith and love ; and 
several individuals were converted from the error of their way, saved 
from sin, and brought into the Church. At this day, some of the most 
pious and exemplary members of the Methodist society in Wakefield 
acknowledge him as their father in the Lord. To young people of 
education, belonging to religious families, he was rendered specially 
useful. He conversed with them respecting their reading ; and intro- 
duced them to different branches of study and knowledge, particularly 
the study of astronomy and botany. He showed them the traces of 
wisdom and design which are observable in all the arrangements of the 
vegetable kingdom ; and he taught them to sanctify every pursuit and 
employment by the word of God and prayer. To many families he 
was a frequent and a welcome visitant. He sympathized with them 
in their trials and afflictions ; and his cheerful spirit and intelligent 
conversation were to them a perpetual source of hallowed joy and in- 
struction. It is needless to add, that a man so esteemed and beloved 
was sincerely and generally regretted, when, in the course of his 
itinerancy, he was finally removed from the circuit. The writer of this 
narrative succeeded Mr. Watson in Wakefield ; and during the two 
happy years which he spent in that place, he found the people con- 
tinually referring in their conversation to Mr. Watson's character and 
ministry. These were topics of which they seemed never to be weary; 
and the emotion with which they often spoke showed the depth of the 
impression which his sermons and conduct had made upon their minds. 
During his stay in Wakefield he formed a very cordial friendship with 
Mr. William Walton ; a man whom he found every way worthy of his 
fraternal love. Several valuable letters addressed to this excellent man 
will be found in the subsequent parts of this narrative. 

The following incident, which occurred in Wakefield, will show the 
readiness and effect with which Mr. Watson could administer reproof 
when it was deemed necessary. One Sunday morning he had not pro- 
ceeded far in his discourse, when he observed a man in a pew just before 
him rise from his seat, and turn round to look at the clock in the front of 
the gallery, as if the service were a weariness to him, and he wished 
to give the preacher a hint that he should speedily bring it to a conclu- 
sion. Mr. Watson observed the unseemly act ; and said, in a very sig- 
nificant manner, " A remarkable change has taken place among the 
people of this country in regard to the public services of religion. Our 
forefathers put their clocks on the outside of their places of worship, 


that they might not be too late in their attendance. We have trans- 
ferred them to the inside of the house of God, lest we should stay too 
long in his service. A sad and an ominous change !" And then, ad- 
dressing the man whose rude behaviour had called forth the remark, 
he said, " You need be under no alarm this morning : I shall not keep 
you beyond the usual time." 

At the conference of 1814 Mr. Watson removed from Wakefield to 
Hull ; a town endeared to him by early and interesting recollections. 
To this place he had been accustomed, in his boyhood, to accompany 
his father on the Sabbath, for the purpose of attending the worship of 
God, and the ministry of his word ; and here religious impressions had 
often been made upon his youthful mind. His father, who used then 
to lead him by the hand, and at whose side he walked to the house of 
prayer, was now no more. Mr. Milner had also gone the way of all 
the earth, and his pulpit was occupied by other men ; but here he 
found Mr. Lambert, the dissenting minister, from whose lips he had 
formerly heard the truth ; and, with a feeling which reflected honour 
upon him both as a man and a Christian, he cultivated the friendship 
of that excellent servant of Christ, and acknowledged his obligations 
to him for his faithful instructions and admonitions. It is not often 
that such impressions, made before the world engages the attention, 
and the heart is hardened through a course of sinning, are entirely 
obliterated ; and when they lead to a state of established piety, the 
remembrance of them is highly salutary and refreshing. During Mr. 
Watson's stay in Hull Mr. Lambert died ; and Mr. Watson preached 
a sermon on the occasion in the Methodist chapel. After paying a 
just tribute of respect to the memory of the pious dead, he spoke of 
the spiritual benefit which he, in common with many others, had de- 
rived from a ministry at once evangelical, devout, and saving. 

Mr. Watson's colleagues in his new appointment were Messrs. Jona- 
than Barker, Henry S. Hopwood, and John Scott ; men who enjoyed 
both his confidence and affection. Few places have been more favour- 
ed in regard to religious advantages than the head of this circuit. For 
many years the duties of the Christian ministry have been discharged 
in Hull, in some of the churches and the dissenting chapels, with a 
power and efficiency seldom surpassed ; and hence a general respect 
is paid to practical godliness by all classes of the community. Mr. 
Benson had been twice stationed in Hull ; and his preaching was sig- 
nally owned of God, in the conversion of men from sin to holiness. 
During the time of his first appointment he was a means of the erec- 
tion of the spacious chapel in George-yard ; and till a very late period, 
many exemplary Christians in that town acknowledged him as their 
father in the Lord. When Mr. Watson was appointed to that station, 
the Methodist ministry had been regularly exercised there upward of 
half a century, and the society had become numerous and influential. 
It contained many families of respectability, and individuals of pro- 
perty and character ; among whom was the late Thomas Thompson, 
Esq., at that time a member of the senate, and an example of primitive 
piety, simplicity, and zeal. In the year 1814 the Methodists had three 
moderately-sized chapels in the town ; but these were insufficient to 
contain the congregations already formed ; and hence a fourth chapel, 
of much larger dimensions, and of elegant architecture, had been be- 


gun during the preceding year, and was then in a course of erection 
Some persons censured the undertaking, as too bold and costly ; but 
the parties engaged had formed their calculations upon correct princi- 
ples, and proceeded in the execution of their plans in the spirit of a 
pure benevolence, and in reliance upon the blessing of God. The 
event most amply justified their previous conclusions. Few chapels 
of equal elegance and magnitude have, in so short a time, so fully 
realized the hopes of their projectors, either in regard to pecuniary 
returns, or the attainment of spiritual good. 

This noble edifice, which was erected in Waltham-street, was open- 
ed for the public worship of God, on Friday and Sunday, October 7th 
and 9th ; when sermons were preached on the occasion by the Rev. 
Messrs. Bunting, Watson, Newton, and Burdsall. The chapel is 
ninety-four feet in length, and eighty-four feet six inches in width, in- 
cluding the wings, in which are the gallery stairs. It is calculated to 
seat upward of two thousand people ; and when the pews and aisles 
are crowded, to contain more than three thousand. Seven hundred 
free sittings were left for the poor. In its external appearance this 
chapel is highly ornamental to the town ; and at the time of its erec- 
tion it was not excelled in the Methodist connection for size, the sym- 
metry of its parts, or the beauty and simplicity of its decorations. It 
was equally creditable to the taste and science of the architect, Mr. 
Jenkins, of London ; and to the society by whose zeal and liberality 
the requisite funds were supplied. The interest excited in the town 
on this occasion was deep and extensive, especially on the Sunday 
evening, when it was thought upward of four thousand persons crowd- 
ed into the new chapel. Many hundreds were unable to obtain admis- 
sion ; and these, with the congregations in the other chapels, which 
were open at the same time, amounted, it was believed, to upward of 
eight thousand people, who on that memorable evening left their homes 
to attend the Avorship of God among the Methodists in Hull. Imme- 
diately after the opening of this house of prayer, every sitting was let ; 
and a large and respectable congregation regularly attended its reli- 
gious services, both on the Sunday, and the week-day evenings. To 
this result the ministry of Mr. Watson mainly contributed ; and many 
families previously unacquainted with Methodism, principally through 
his instrumentality, were permanently attached to this place of wor- 
ship. At no period of his life does his preaching appear to have been 
more powerful, or to have exerted a stronger and more extensive influ- 
ence upon the public mind. His sermons, marked by a force of rea- 
soning and a persuasiveness almost peculiar to himself, embodying the 
great and vital truths of Christianity, and delivered with earnestness 
and pathos, were a means of reclaiming many a wanderer from God, 
of conveying strength and comfort to many a broken heart, and of 
stimulating believers "to " go on unto perfection." 

As the house in which he resided was contiguous to the chapel in 
Waltham-street, he considered the congregation and society connected 
with that place as his special charge ; and though his labours were 
not successful to the extent of his wishes, he had the high gratification 
to witness the prosperity and spread of true religion. One Monday 
evening, when he was preaching in this chapel, an unusual power at- 
tended the word ; and several persons wept aloud. At the close of 


the public service he retired into the vestry, where many of the congre- 
gation followed him, inquiring, " What must we do to be saved ?" The 
cries of those who were convinced of sin were loud and piercing. For 
a moment he seemed to be stunned, and asked one of the class leaders, 
who was standing by, " What shall we do, brother ?" " Let us pray to 
Him who can save," Avas the answer. Without uttering another word, 
he kneeled down by the side of the penitents, and continued to inter- 
cede with God in their behalf, pointing them at intervals to the sacri- 
fice of Christ, and encouraging them to put their trust in him, till three 
of them obtained the inward witness of their acceptance in the Beloved, 
and were enabled to rejoice in the pardoning mercy of God. Several 
whole families, by means of his preaching, were brought under reli- 
gious impressions ; and many individuals were induced to become 
regular hearers at the different chapels, who were previously accus- 
tomed to spend the Sabbath in worldliness and folly. He greatly re- 
joiced in distinct instances of ministerial usefulness ; and when they 
were withheld for any length of time, he mourned, and subjected him-* 
self to severe searchings of heart. Christ crucified was eminently the 
theme of his ministry during his residence in Hull ; and while he ex- 
patiated on the wisdom of the redeeming scheme, the glory of Christ's 
person, the infinite merit of his atonement, and his willingness to save 
a world of ruined sinners, a stillness like that of death usually pervaded 
the congregations ; and each would have said to his neighbour, had he 
given utterance to the feelings of his heart, " How dreadful is this 
place !" Were we to estimate the sum of his usefulness in Hull, solely 
by the number of actual conversions which were known to be effected 
through his instrumentality, we should greatly err. The influence of 
his ministry was felt in many quarters where it was never acknow- 
ledged ; and it operated in a thousand ways which cannot now be 
traced. Almost every person in the town, who made any profession 
of religion, heard him at one time or another. Even his week-night 
congregations in the principal chapels were unusually large ; frequently 
amounting to eight hundred or a thousand people. Infidels were held 
at bay by his forcible argumentation in defence of Christianity ; and 
they were forced to confess, from what they saw in him, that the most 
vigorous understanding, and a conscientious belief of revealed religion, 
are perfectly consistent with each other. Socinians often quailed before 
him, while he placed the sceptre in the hand of the Son of God, and the 
crown upon his head, and with all the energy that truth inspires, called 
upon every knee to bow before him, and every tongue to confess his 
eternal power and Godhead. The Divinity and atonement of Christ 
were subjects on which he delighted to expatiate ; and the manner in 
which he applied these vital doctrines of Christianity conveyed con- 
viction, and comfort, and purity, to the minds of many of his hearers. 
He had a high sense of the solemnity and decorum with which the 
public worship of God ought always to be conducted. Of choirs of 
singers in different chapels he deliberately, and on principle, disap- 
proved; and he was of opinion that they had greatly injured the 
psalmody and devotion of the Methodist congregations. He thought 
that an organ, properly managed, was preferable to a number of small 
instruments ; but his desire was, that musical instruments in general 
should be superseded, and the congregations surrendered to the 


guidance of a pious and judicious leading singer. That the singing 
department of the worship of God should be governed by the whim, 
and desecrated by the pride of vain and worldly men, he deemed 
impious ; and, as a means of neutralizing an evil which he could not 
effectually cure, he frequently dictated the tunes that he wished to be 
sung to the particular hymns which he had selected. For this he was 
well qualified by his fine taste in music, and his intimate acquaintance 
with the principles of the science ; and to this day, in the remem- 
brance of his friends in Hull, his favourite hymns are associated with 
his favourite tunes. " Our people," he would sometimes say, " are a 
devotional people : they love psalmody ; and were they not hindered 
by the trifling of the choir, they would produce the finest congrega- 
tional singing in the world." 

The following letters, which Mr. Watson wrote after he had been a 
few months in Hull, will show the strength of his affection for an excel- 
lent family in Wakefield, whose friendship he had cultivated. They 
contain, also, painful notices of the delicacy of his health, and of the 
consequent pain and langour with which he prosecuted those labours 
which excited so much attention, and by which multitudes of people 
were greatly benefited. 

To Mr. William Walton, of Wakefield. 

Hull, December 6th, 1814. 

My Dear Friend, — I ought to beg pardon for not acknowledging 
sooner the receipt of a parcel, containing a present of excellent 
cloth. Accept my best thanks. As I wear it I shall be reminded of 
my old and favourite friends, with whom I feel a union, not to be 
broken off, I hope, in this life ; but which, I trust, will be renewed 
and continued in the kingdom of our common Lord for ever. 

I am concerned to hear that Miss Ann is indisposed. I hope the 
indisposition will prove only transient ; and that the whole of her 
heavenly Father's dispensations will be abundantly sanctified. Pre- 
sent her with my kind regards, and best wishes that she may feel an 
increasing union with the Divine and inexhaustible Fountain of all our 
light, and comfort, and salvation. How great is the mercy, that he is 
ever nigh to them that fear him ; and that in sickness and health, joy 
and sorrow, life and death, he is all and in all to his people ! 

A letter from London gives an account of the missionary meeting 
held on Thursday. It seems, they began at six o'clock at night ; thus 
putting that off to the shades of the evening, which ought to have been 
done in broad day, and proclaimed on the house tops. 

Excuse haste. I hope to see you at the time proposed ; and, in 
the meantime, I can only pray that the best blessings of heaven 
above, and of earth beneath, may rest upon you and your respected 
family. I shall probably spend not more than a few hours with you 
when I come through. I have engaged to open the new chapel at 
Newark, on the 8th of January ; and I can get there from Manchester 
by three routes ; by Sheffield, by Nottingham, or by Wakefield. — 
Which of them I shall take I have not yet determined. 

Please present my love to the preachers, and to all friends. 


The missionary meeting here referred to was held in the City-Road 
chapel, December 1st, 1814, for the purpose of forming a society for 
the London district, agreeably to the direction of conference. Dr. 
Adam Clarke presided on the occasion ; and the Rev. Messrs. James 
Wood, Benson, Bradburn, Entwisle, Jenkins, Edmondson, Sutcliffe, 
Thomas Wood, M'Donald, and Buckley, with several lay gentlemen, 
lent their assistance. It was the first missionary meeting ever held 
by the Methodists in the metropolis ; and it is probable that doubts 
were entertained as to the possibility of securing a sufficient atten- 
dance, if it were held in the course of the day. The evening was 
therefore chosen, that the meeting might not interfere with the claims 
of business. Subsequent events, however, have amply demonstrated, 
that the Methodists of London are as ready to devote their time and 
property to the cause of missions as their brethren in the country ; and 
that the estimate which was then formed of their zeal originated in 

Something, it appears, occurred to prevent Mr. Watson's visit to 
Wakefield at the time proposed ; and hence he addressed the following 
letter to the same valued friend toward the end of the month: — 

To Mr William Walton. 

My Dear Friend, — I have received a kind intimation of your wish 
that I would not omit paying you a visit, as proposed before the Man- 
chester meeting was postponed. Now certainly I do not require 
much pressing to visit Wakefield, which, you know, is a very favourite 
place ; and especially your house, which is still more so. I am 
obliged to visit Manchester on some private business ; and had intended 
to go directly through by the mail from Hull ; but as I hear you are 
indisposed, and it is a charity to visit the sick ; and, secondly, as you 
have repeated the invitation ; and, thirdly, as I am myself unwell, and 
shall be glad of a day or two of relaxation, for I am truly worked 
down; I will do myself what I assure you will be a very great pleasure, 
— I will, all being well, and if it please God, be with you on Monday, 
the 2d of January; and then proceed to Manchester on Wednesday or 
Thursday; and thence, by Nottingham or Doncaster, to Newark. — 
Were I to go by Leeds, I could not reach you till Tuesday ; but I 
propose going on Monday morning by the Sheffield coach, as far as 
Rawcliffe, whence I can get a conveyance to Pontefract. Now, as I 
am not in good walking condition, if I could so far trespass on your 
goodness as to send the gig for me there, about twelve o'clock, I 
should be with you early in the afternoon. The gig might meet me at 
the same inn, in Pontefract, where we once took a lunch, in one of 
our botanical excursions ; for you have not, I suppose, forgotten ram- 
bling among the hedges and ditches for good specimens. If this 
should not be convenient, it is no matter. I can either walk from 
Pontefract, or get some conveyance. Do -not put yourself to any 
inconvenience whatever. 

I am truly sorry to hear that you have had another of your winter 
attacks. I, too, have been an invalid for more than a month ; though 
I have continued in my Avork. May we consider these as the kind 
corrections of the Father who loves us, and is still, both in the cloud 
and the sunshine, carrying on his purposes of mercy ! 


I find yob have a tale of my being robbed, and getting £150 by it. 
Truly, I should have no objection to be robbed in such a way ; but 
there are no such golden showers for me, who seldom profited much by 
the doctrine of chances. The fact is, we have had the same tale cur- 
rent here respecting Mr. Atmore, at Halifax, with this difference, — that 
in the change of coats, he got .£600 ; and I, always behind you see, 
only .£150. I have seldom any thing to be robbed of, but my life ; and 
no man can take away that till He pleases who gave it. This neigh- 
bourhood is, however, greatly infested by desperadoes. 

This will reach you about the new year. May it be a year of the 
greatest happiness, peace, usefulness, and improvement to you all ! — 
Wishing you every blessing of time and eternity, I must leave off and 
fall to work. I have three occasional sermons to preach before I see 
you : one on Saturday, one on Sunday afternoon, and one on Sunday 
evening ; beside my regular work in the town and neighbourhood. — 
The friends here are most unmerciful folks ; but I will shake them off 
at four o'clock on Monday morning, when the coach leaves. 

Thursday noon. 

The tale of robbery, upon which Mr. Watson here descants in his 
humorous manner, which was then extensively current, was, that in 
returning to Hull late in the evening, after preaching in a neighbouring 
village, he was met by a highwayman, who, after taking from him his 
money and his watch, demanded his coat, giving him his own, which 
was old and shabby, in exchange ; and that Mr. Watson, on his arrival 
at home, found in the pocket of this worthless garment the sum of £150. 
This, however, proved, like many other marvellous reports, to be only 
an ingenious fabrication. 

Toward the end of the year 1814 the melancholy tidings of Dr. Coke's 
death reached England, and created very painful feelings in the minds 
of the friends who were then exerting themselves in the length and 
breadth of the land to support the missions of which he had long been 
the patron and director. He died suddenly at sea, on the 3d of May, 
it is supposed in a fit of apoplexy ; and the missionaries whom he was 
conducting to India, and who placed an entire reliance upon him as 
their counsellor and guide, were left to the resources of their own 
minds ; or, rather, were thrown absolutely upon the care of Divine 
Providence. On their arrival in India they obtained the requisite 
pecuniary supplies from W T. Money, Esq., of Bombay, who kindly 
met their wants on the faith of the Methodist connection in England ; 
and they entered upon their work in Ceylon in the true spirit of Chris- 
tian missionaries, and with encouraging prospects of success. Their 
case excited a powerful sympathy in India, and among the friends at 
home ; and the death of Dr. Coke caused a deep and general sorrow ; 
not on his own account, (for no one doubted of his final blessedness,) 
but because it was felt that both the Church and the world had lost a 
tried and an efficient friend. Mr. Watson shared in the common feel- 
ing; and rendered justice to Dr. Coke's character in a funeral sermon 
which he preached at Hull on the mournful occasion. In missionary 
zeal and enterprise Dr. Coke had long been far in advance upon the 
connection to which he belonged, and upon the generality of British 
Christians ; and this part of his character Mr. Watson was specially 


qualified to hold up to public view in a manner the most advan- 

At this period Mr. Watson's extraordinary talents as a preacher were 
extensively known and appreciated ; and numberless applications were 
made to him to assist at missionary meetings, to open new chapels, and 
to plead the cause of schools, and of various local charities. His en- 
gagement to preach at the re-opening of the Methodist chapel in New- 
ark, after it had undergone considerable enlargement, he mentions in 
his letters to Mr. Walton. This visit to the scene of his early labours, 
after a lapse of nearly twenty years, he greatly enjoyed. In reference 
to this journey, and his subsequent visits to that neighbourhood, Mr. 
Eggleston of Newark says, " The high respect entertained for Mr. 
Watson, by the friends in Newark, induced them to invite him to preach 
at the opening of their enlarged chapel ; and he most cheerfully com- 
plied with their request. His preaching was eminently acceptable and 
useful ; and his kind, sensible, social, and pious conversation ; his affa- 
bility toward those who were not connected with Methodism, but who 
attended the missionary meetings, and partook of a friendly meal with 
him, at the house of his host ; rendered his visits a blessing to all who 
were favoured with his company. From a conversation I had with 
him, when attending one of our missionary meetings, he appeared very 
anxious to pay a visit to some of the villages where he had laboured 
when he was a local preacher ; and promised, if I would accompany 
him, to take a circuit through those interesting fields of his early minis- 
try At the same time he inquired after several of his associates, the 
local preachers who had shared with him in the honourable toil." 

While Mr. Watson was absent from home in the winter of 1815, about 
the time when he visited Wakefield, Manchester, and Newark, a base 
attack was made upon him, in one of the Hull newspapers. On the 
Sunday evening before his departure, he had preached a very impres- 
sive sermon on Belshazzar's feast, in which he described the wretched 
situation of an epicure, who might, like the Babylonian monarch, be 
arrested by death in the midst of his unhallowed pleasures. The ser- 
mon was one of a series of discourses which he was then preaching in 
the Waltham-street chapel. It happened that a gentleman in Hull had 
recently died under painful circumstances ; and some person in the 
congregation, who had not the honour to give his name, nor the candour 
to make any inquiries on the subject, assuming that the sermon had a 
reference to that deceased individual, censured Mr. Watson in tenns 
the most harsh and insulting, and held him up to public reprobation, 
for making the pulpit a vehicle of calumny, and availing himself of his 
office as a Christian minister to wound the feelings of bereaved families 
and friends. A person under the signature of " Justitia" defended him 
in his absence ; and on his return to Hull he addressed the following 
characteristic letter to the editor of the " Rockingham :" — 

Hull, Feb. 28th, 1815. 
Sir, — I was not a little surprised, on the appearance of your last 
week's paper, to find myself very unhandsomely and rudely charged 
with having, in a sermon lately preached at Waltham-street chapel, 
" made very unseemly allusions to the character of a gentleman lately 
deceased ;" in a word, with having represented him in life as an epicure, 


and at death " taking a leap in the dark." Had your correspondent, 
sir, asked me for an explanation, I could have satisfied him ; but he 
appears to be one of 

" Those whose fancies skip 
From the head unto the lip ; 
And, scarcely resting, skip again 
From the lip unto the pen ;" 

and that without much intervening labour of thinking. I owe your 
correspondent nothing but the feeling which folly excites ; but I think 
I owe it to the public, and to the friends of the deceased, to say, that, 
at the time when I preached that sermon, I knew no more of the de- 
ceased than his name, and the fact of his death : nothing of his cha- 
racter, good or bad. If your correspondent chose to misunderstand 
me, I am not surely responsible for his mistakes. Though I engaged 
to preach, I did not engage to give him understanding. I have not, sir, 
I hope, to learn from him the proprieties which become the pulpit ; and 
my own heart, I flatter myself, is a sufficient guard against offending 
those proprieties in the manner charged upon me. Sacred be the 
charities which hover over the memory of departed friends ! In the 
contest which the moral teacher wages against the vices of men, it is 
not necessary to strew the arena with the ashes of the dead. 

I might, in justice, expect from your correspondent an apology for 
this uncharitable attack upon me ; were not his censure and apology 
alike indifferent to, 

Sir, your most obedient servant. 

After reading this dignified and just rebuke, the officious corres- 
pondent of the " Rockingham" perceived that he had mistaken both his 
own character and that of Mr. Watson ; and if ever he again strayed 
on a Sunday evening into the Waltham-street chapel, and heard things 
which were above his comprehension, whatever his surmisings might 
be, he confined them to his own breast, and suffered no more of his 
lucubrations to appear in print. 

Early in the spring of this year the anxieties of Mr. Walton were 
excited in behalf of a young man who was under sentence of death for 
felony in one of the southern counties of England. He had known and 
esteemed some branches of the family to which this unhappy youth 
belonged, and was very desirous of saving his life ; and for this purpose 
used every means in his power to obtain for him a commutation of 
punishment. Mr. Watson, it seems, applied to Mr. Thompson, of Hull, 
who interceded with government, and besought them to spare the man 
that was appointed to die. Every application, however, proved una- 
vailing, and the culprit endured the extreme penalty of the law. Before 
his execution he addressed a letter to his kind friend at Wakefield, in 
which he gave every sign of genuine penitence ; and there was hope 
in his death. A copy of this letter Mr. Walton forwarded to Mr. Wat- 
son, accompanied by one of his own, in which he gave farther in- 
formation respecting the person whom he had endeavoured in vain to 
save. To the letter of his friend, Mr. Watson returned the following 
answer : — 


To Mr. William Walton, Wakefield. 

Hull, April 29th, 1815. 

Dear Sir, — Yours I received with pleasure, and would have writ- 
ten by Mr. Wood, but that I had no time. I perused the copy of poor 

's letter with thankful feelings to that God who willeth not the death 

of a sinner. There seems no doubt of his having died as we could 
wish him to die. How mysterious are the ways of Him who cannot 
err ! Your anxieties and kind endeavours to save his life were frus- 
trated ; — perhaps mercifully frustrated ; for had he lived, he might 
have gone on still in his trespasses. The body was given to death, 
that the spirit might be quickened and saved. You have nevertheless 
the pleasure of reflecting that you " did what you could." The event 
was the Lord's ; and he, in this, as in every case, " hath done all things 
well." Mr. Thompson has been, and still remains ill ; when he is 
better, I will show him the letter, and he will rejoice with us. 

It is Saturday night ; and to-morrow is the Sabbath of the Lord. I 
must therefore apply to my preparations ; not forgetting, however, when 
I bow before the throne, old friends and old enjoyments. I often think 
with pleasure on our Saturday night prayer meetings at Wakefield. — 
To-morrow morning early I perform the melancholy duty of laying the 
first corpse in the vaults of our new chapel ; a respectable member of 
our society, who was with us at the missionary meeting, and all the 
services connected with it, in the same chapel. So precarious is life ; 
so soon may our Master call ! May we be found ready, at our post, 
and in our work ; and what then is death ? 

-'Tis life's last shore, 

Where vanities are vain no more ; 
Where all pursuits their goal obtain, 
And life is all retouch'd again ; 
Where in their bright results shall rise, 
Thoughts, virtues, friendships, griefs, and joys." 

Please present my affectionate remembrances to your respected 
family, the preachers, and all friends. 

I am yours very affectionately. 

At the conference of 1815 Mr. Watson was returned a second year 
to Hull ; and his colleagues were the Rev. Messrs. Isaac Turton, 
William Naylor, and Henry S. Hopwood. They laboured together 
in harmony and love, and had the high gratification of seeing the 
work of God in a state of growing prosperity through the circuit. — 
The following account of this part of Mr. Watson's life has been kindly 
supplied by Mr. Naylor : — 

" I had the honour and happiness of being appointed to labour with 
him in the Hull circuit, and as our residences were near each other, 
our intercourse was frequent and free ; and in regard to myself it was 
truly profitable. It was our custom, with our colleagues, to spend one 
forenoon in the week in discussing some selected subject in divinity, 
when his richly-stored mind would unfold and illustrate the important 
doctrines of the Gospel to our edification ; and frequently we knew 
not which to admire most, the luminous statements which he made, or 
the humility with which they were given, — the teacher generally per- 
sonating the earnest inquirer. 


" In Hull he was greatly esteemed by the pious of all denomina- 
tions, who availed themselves of the opportunity of attending his 
ministry ; and his powerful and evangelical discourses were not merely 
admired, but felt, and rendered specially useful. I have frequently 
thought that, as a preacher, he never surpassed what he was in those 
days. His sermons were closely studied ; and having then greater 
bodily vigour than he possessed in the latter years of his life, they 
were delivered with an energy which increased the interest they were 
so well calculated to produce. His labours were not in vain in the 
Lord. Not only were believers comforted and edified, but sinners 
were convinced of their guilty, depraved, and miserable condition, and 
effectually turned to God, under his ministry. My surprise was, that 
their number was not greater. When I have heard his convincing 
statements concerning the evil and fearful consequences of sin ; his 
powerful appeals to the conscience ; and his encouraging addresses 
to the penitent, to draw near to God through the mediation of Jesus 
Christ ; I have thought that we should surely hear of many con- 

" There is reason to believe that the disease which terminated his 
life existed, if it had not its commencement, during his residence in 
the Hull circuit. He complained of a pain in his side. This was so 
severe, that he could not bear the exercise of riding on horseback, 
which was our usual mode of conveyance to the distant places in the 
circuit. He was exceedingly punctual in attending his appointments; 
and therefore performed many long journeys on foot, even in the mid- 
dle of winter, and upon very indifferent roads ; for he could not endure 
the thought of a Methodist preacher neglecting a congregation, when 
he was expected ; and he felt very keenly if any one supposed him 
capable of doing so from indifference." 

While in the Hull circuit Mr. Watson narrowly escaped with his 
life in one of his pedestrian journeys into the country. For several 
years^ the preachers had been in the habit of visiting Marfleet on the 
week-day evenings ; — a small village in Holderness, on the banks of 
the Humber, where they had a society and congregation. The road 
to this place being then circuitous, foot passengers were accustomed to 
shorten the distance, by walking across the fields, which are sur- 
rounded by deep drains ; and over these some narrow planks formed 
the only bridges. When returning from this place one stormy winter's 
night, Mr. Watson missed the path, and wandered about for some 
hours, exposed to the storm, and in no small danger of perishing in the 
drains, which were then filled with water. As the night advanced his 
family and friends became alarmed ; and Mr. John Thompson, at whose 
house he was expected to sup on his way home, set out with a lantern 
in quest of him. Mr. Watson, in a state of great exhaustion, saw the 
light approach ; and believing it to be the sign of his deliverance, sent in 
answer to his prayer, stood still till he was able to hail its friendly bearer, 
who was overjoyed to find that he was the honoured means of saving 
so valuable a life. Mr. Watson, who was completely bewildered when 
Mr. Thompson appeared, always regarded this deliverance as the 
result of a providential interposition. 



Mr. Watson visits London to assist at a Missionary Anniversary — His Sermon 
in the City-Road Chapel — Missionary Anniversary at Hull — Extract from the 
Report — False Alarm — Difficulty in preparing for the Pulpit — Mr. Watson's Re. 
moval to London — Appointed one of the General Secretaries to the Wesleyan 
Missions — Manner in which he discharged his official Duties — Letter to Mr. 
Edmondson — Letter to Dr. Ellis — Letters to Mr. Garbutt — Extracts from the 
General Missionary Report for the Year 1816. 

At this time Mr. Watson's fame as a preacher, and especially a 
preacher on public occasions, was circulated far and wide; and his 
services, as an advocate of Christian missions, were in general and 
urgent demand. The friends in London applied for his assistance at 
the anniversary of their district society in the spring of 1816 ; and, in 
compliance with their request, he preached in the City-Road chapel on 
the morning of the 25th of April. The Rev. William Jones, the editor 
of the New Evangelical Magazine,* who had been acquainted with Mr. 
Watson in Liverpool, had given so high a character of him, as to induce 
the attendance of a large number of dissenting ministers ; and as the 
missionary anniversary was held during the sitting of the annual district 
meeting, when the Methodist preachers belonging to all the neighbour- 
ing circuits were present, nearly the whole of the front gallery was 
occupied by ministers. Mr. Watson felt the importance of the occa- 
sion, and experienced no ordinary degree of trepidation in contemplating 
the task which was allotted him. He paced the vestry of the cha- 
pel in a state of considerable agitation ; and when he was informed 
that the time for commencing the service had arrived, he said, with an 
expression of strong emotion, " Seasons of this kind require strong 
nerves, and great assistance from above." That assistance he ulti- 
mately received in an eminent degree ; although he was so affected 
that he partly lost the recollection of the topics which he intended to 
serve as an introduction to his discourse. The sermon was founded 
upon 1 Cor. xv, 25, " He must reign till he hath put all enemies under 
his feet." The subject was the mediatorial government of Christ, 
viewed especially in connection with the universal spread and esta- 
blishment of Christianity in the world ; and the sermon altogether was 
one of his happiest and most successful efforts. It is scarcely possi- 
ble to conceive of argumentation more lucid and powerful, sentiments 
more sublime and impressive, imagery more beautiful and varied, 
and diction more rich and appropriate, than those which character- 
ized this wonderful discourse. As he overcame his embarrassment, 
and entered into the subject, his own heart became deeply impressed 
with its truth and momentous results ; his countenance expanded ; and 
the effect upon the congregation was irresistible. Much had been 
expected from him ; — 

* A correspondent in Hull had said, in one of his communications, " We have 
now an admirable preacher here, of the Methodist persuasion, a Mr. Watson, 
very deservedly popular. The new chapel in which he officiates is supposed to 
be the handsomest in the kingdom, not even excepting your chapels in the metro, 
polis." To this Mr. Jones added, "The editor can from his own personal 
knowledge, fully subscribe to this verdict on the talents of Mr. Watson. He 
ranks among the ablest preachers in the kingdom." 


" Yet when at length the clear and mellow base 
Of his deep voice brake forth, and he let fall 
His chosen words like flakes of feather'd snow ;" 

and when every successive topic which he introduced rose in interest 
and grandeur ; a breathless silence pervaded the whole assembly ; the 
people seemed to be all but their attention dead ; the powers of the 
preacher were forgotten in the magnitude and sublimity of the theme , 
and when the protracted service concluded, every one seemed to feel 
as the parent of mankind felt when he had been listening with amazed 
and delightful attention to the strains of angelic eloquence, describing 
the creation of the universe by the almighty Son of God : — 

" The angel ended, and in Adam's ear 
So charming left his voice, that he awhile 
Thought him still speaking, still stood fix'd to hear." 

One peculiarity attended all Mr. Watson's occasional sermons, as 
well as his ordinary ministry, — admiration of the preacher was only 
a very subordinate feeling among his hearers. Every one, of course, 
was impressed with the greatness of his talents and genius ; but, ex- 
cepting the merely sentimental hearers, who were equally deficient in 
piety and in sound judgment, and whose attention was directed to 
nothing but figures of speech, the congregations were so much affect- 
ed with the subjects which he brought before them, as to be almost 
incapable of thinking of any thing else. These were exhibited in a 
light so impressive, and their practical bearing was so distinctly and 
forcibly urged, that the devout part of his hearers especially were 
deeply humbled under a sense of their deficiencies and neglects, and 
retired from the house of God lamenting their past indifference, resolv- 
ing to be more faithful for the time to come, and retiring into secret to 
ask pardoning mercy from God, and grace to enable them to fulfil their 
numerous obligations. 

Mr. Watson declined to publish the sermon which he preached in 
the City-Road chapel ; and no outline of it was found among his papers 
after his decease. The following account of it, and of the occasion 
on which it was delivered, was given by Mr. Jones in the periodical 
work which has just been mentioned : — " The whole of the discourse was 
strikingly appropriate to the cause of missions ; and the preacher never 
for a moment lost sight of the important object of the meeting. As this 
sermon, according to our judgment, possessed no ordinary degree of 
excellence, it would afford us pleasure to present our readers with 
something like an epitome of it, but the very attempt disheartens us. 
We feel how much injustice we should unavoidably do to the preacher, 
while we should be as far from satisfying ourselves. Those who 
would form any just estimate of Mr. Watson's pulpit talents must hear 
him for themselves. His popularity, unlike that of many of the pre- 
sent day, is not founded upon the ignorance of his followers. It is not 
the gracefulness of his action, the modulations of his voice, nor the 
harmony of his periods alone, that arrest the attention of his hearers, 
and make them listen to him with delight. In none of these, indeed, 
is Mr. Watson deficient ; but he possesses other pulpit excellences of 
a still higher order, which may be truly said to lay the basis of a solid 
popularity, and which confer upon the former a kind of crowning effect. 
These are a discriminating judgment, an understanding highly culti- 


vated, an intimate acquaintance with the sacred writings, enlarged and 
liberal views of things, and a happy facility of communicating his 
ideas to others. Mr. "Watson is not a dull declaimer; there is nothing 
of pedantry about him ; he disdains ' to amuse the skittish fancy with 
facetious tales.' He can, it is true, be plain and familiar, where plain- 
ness and familiarity are proper ; but he can also soar to the heights 
of sublimity. His mind is richly stored with sentiment ; and few men 
possess a happier talent at conveying that sentiment to others. It is 
some years since we had heard Mr. Watson preach ; but though we 
looked for great things from him, we frankly own that he has surpass- 
ed our expectations. We were glad to find that the interval of half a 
dozen years had contributed toward maturing his judgment, and per- 
fecting his qualifications as a preacher ; so that we found ourselves 
fully justified in the favourable testimony which Ave lately gave of Mr. 
Watson. We observed several of the London ministers, of different 
denominations, present on this occasion; probably induced to it by what 
we said of the preacher ; and, if we might be allowed to draw any con- 
clusion from the expressions of marked satisfaction which they evinced 
in their whole behaviour, we should say that they were not disappointed. 

" Entertaining, as we do, but little doubt that the committee for 
managing the concerns of the mission will prevail on Mr. Watson to 
publish his sermon, we are indeed the less solicitous at present about 
giving any report of its contents ; but it may gratify the impatient curi- 
osity of some of our readers to be furnished with the mere outline of 
this admirable sermon. Some pertinent and striking observations on 
the nature of the Christian dispensation, — its prophetic character, — and 
the profound and intimate acquaintance which the Apostle Paul had 
with it in all its ramifications, introduced the discussion of the text; 
to illustrate which, the preacher proposed the consideration of three 
particulars ; — the ' enemies ' which Christ will ultimately subdue, — the 
nature of that dispensation which is termed his ' reign,' — and the cer- 
tainty of his eventual success. 

" The enemies of Christ, Mr. Watson justly remarked, are all of 
them the enemies of the happiness of man ; and these he classed under 
the following subdivisions : — Satan and his angels, — sin, — false reli- 
gions, under every form and shape, — and all civil governments that set 
themselves in opposition to the interests of his kingdom, by persecuting 
his people, and endeavouring to check the progress of his Gospel in 
the world. After illustrating each of these particulars, he proceeded 
to delineate the characteristic properties of Christ's reign, which he 
judiciously distinguished from his providential government of the world ; 
remarking, that it was an administration conferred upon him by God 
the Father, in consequence of his having finished the work of redemp- 
tion, and in virtue of which ' all power was given unto him, both in 
heaven and on earth,' agreeably to Matthew xxviii, 1 8. He therefore 
considered it under the threefold view of a reign of mercy, — a reign 
of vengeance, — and a reign which does not supercede the freedom of the 
human will * The discussion of these topics brought the preacher to 

* The expression used by Mr. Jones is, " a reign of moral suasion ;" but Mr. 
Watson remarked to the writer of this narrative, when he read this account of 
his sermon, that "moral suasion" was a phrase which he had never used in the 
pulpit in the whole course of his life. 


the last head of his discourse, — the grounds of the assurance which 
we have that Christ will ultimately triumph over his and over all his 
people's enemies. This certainty of success he was proceeding to 
argue from the numerous prophecies contained in Scripture, concern- 
ing the extension of his kingdom, and the promises made to him of 
having the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the 
earth for his possession : but waiving a particular detail of the prophe- 
cies concerning the reign of the Messiah, and the universal extension 
of his kingdom, the consideration of which would occupy more time 
than could be allowed, he confined himself to the argument arising 
from the Deity of Christ, as involving in itself an assured ground of 
confidence to us, that he will finally subdue all his enemies ; and that 
his kingdom shall come with power, and his will be done on earth as 
it is in heaven. In this part of his sermon Mr. Watson took occasion 
to advert to the conduct of the Socinians, who are unwearied in their 
efforts to ' rob the Saviour of the brightest diadem in his crown ;' at 
the mention of which the soul of the preacher seemed to take fire ; 
and, rising into the boldest strain of animation, he reprobated their 
sentiments, with merited indignation, in a fine tone of impassioned elo- 
quence. This brought him to the winding up of his discourse, in which 
he displayed the full force of his genius, and gave ample proof of tran- 
scendent talent. He collected into one general view the happy results 
of the Messiah's reign, which believers anticipate as shortly to be 
accomplished. The infernal powers shall be restrained from deceiv- 
ing the nations. They have had their hour and the power of darkness ; 
but the time is at hand when they are to be shut up in the bottomless 
pit. The Gospel shall spread throughout the nations, enlightening 
those that now sit in darkness and the shadow of death. Millions of 
the human race, now enslaved in sin, and sunk in vice, shall shake 
off their fetters, and rise to righteousness and life. Persecutors shall 
every where cease out of the land ; false religions be for ever exter- 
minated ; and Christ shall universally reign, from the rising to the 
setting sun. 

" But delightful and animating as these prospects are, they do not 
bound our hopes and expectations. The reign of Christ includes in it 
more than has • yet been mentioned. ' The last enemy that shall be 
destroyed is death ;' and even that will be finally vanquished by the 
Redeemer : for ' he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his 
feet.' When he hath perfected his work of grace and mercy on earth, 
he will come again the second time, without a sin offering, unto the 
salvation of all that look for him. The trumpet shall sound, and the 
dead shall be raised. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that 
is written, ' Death is swallowed up in victory.' 

" These few imperfect hints may serve to give our readers some 
faint idea of Mr. Watson's sermon ; but in justice to himself we must 
say, that it is a very inadequate notion which can be formed of it from 
any description that could be given of it, even by a much abler pen 
than ours. We have not the pleasure of any acquaintance with him, or 
we would entreat its publication, as being calculated, in no ordinary 
degree, to subserve the cause of missions ; and though we did not per- 
ceive that Mr. Watson availed himself of any notes in delivering it, we 
are confident that he is sufficiently in the habit of committing his thoughts 


to paper, to render it no difficult task for him to prepare it for the press ; 
since such accuracy in the structure of sentences, as that which 
uniformly marks his preaching, is only to be attained by the practice 
of writing." 

The venerable Joseph Benson, who was a profound divine, and one 
of the best preachers of either that or any other age, was unbounded in 
his admiration of Mr. Watson's sermon ; and, in his intercourse with 
his friends, .spoke of it in terms of the highest commendation. In the 
Methodist Magazine, of which he was then the editor, he says, " An 
excellent discourse was delivered at the City-Road chapel, by the Rev. 
Richard Watson, of Hull, from 1 Corinthians xv, 25, which excited 
unusual attention and interest. His vast compass of mind, grasping 
the whole mediatorial reign of Christ, and his peculiar and energetic 
manner of showing the subjugation and destruction of his enemies, could 
not fail deeply to impress the hearts of the listening auditory." 

The public missionary meeting commenced at five o'clock in the evening 
of the day in which Mr. Watson preached at the City-Road chapel. — 
Thomas Thompson, Esq., M. P. was expected to preside ; but, in con- 
sequence of unavoidable absence, his place was supplied by Dr. Adam 
Clarke. In an excellent letter of apology, Mr. Thompson stated, " It 
has been said, by an enemy to the British and Foreign Bible society, 
that a Bible fever has spread through the kingdom ; and it is more than 
probable that it will soon be said, that a missionary fever is following it." 
The Rev. Walter Griffith, whose zeal in the sacred cause was most 
exemplary, in seconding the first resolution, in allusion to these words, 
acknowledged that he had " caught the missionary fever. The impor- 
tant work of missions occupied his whole frame, and thoughts, and 
prayers ; and the disease which had thus affected him was a pleasant 
and blessed one." Mr. Watson delivered an admirable speech, in which 
he introduced a reference to the same subject. The following are the 
topics upon which he expatiated in his eloquent and striking manner : — 
" I hope the mission fever will not be intermitted, nor Satan invent a 
cure. Can ye not discern the signs of the times ? The science of 
navigation is improved ; but no heathens take advantage of that. — 
Christian nations have colonized heathen countries ; but no heathens 
have colonized Christian shores. The reported purity of heathens is 
dissipated by reports of travellers. The lax notions of Christians about 
heathen salvation are giving way ; and we agree to consider them as lost 
sinners. The attention of Christians is now happily turned from 
abstract principles and trivial topics to the great concern of heathen 
salvation. The union of Christians is an important fact in the common 
cause of Christianity We cannot unite all denominations in the same 
society ; but we can unite in spirit. The West India missions are 
peculiarly interesting. If ever liberty be given to every subject of the 
empire, Christianity must prepare them for that boon. The American 
and Newfoundland missions are important. In Newfoundland twenty 
thousand persons are living without religious instruction ; and without 
the ordinances of God they will become pagans. Dr. Mason of New- 
York has remarked, that if America do not exert herself, there will be 
two millions of white heathens in the back settlements. The Ceylon 
mission is tried by the death of its agents ; but a good missionary can 
neither live nor die in vain. We are thankful for the patronage which 

Vol. I. 10 


we enjoy there ; but the most exalted personages do not confer honour 
upon the missionary cause by the countenance which they afford it : 
they rather receive honour from their connection with that cause. 
Our work in Ceylon, as in other places, is an itinerancy. A chapel 
and Sunday schools have already been erected and established in that 
promising island. The Ceylon mission will be an important entrance to 
that part of the heathen world. There can be no doubt that every 
faithful missionary will be useful in one degree or another. The 
smallest contributions assist in the good work. A shilling may carry 
a missionary a mile ; and by travelling that mile he may be a means of 
the conversion and salvation of an immortal soul." 

During his residence in Hull, Mr. Watson was one of the secretaries 
to the auxiliary missionary society for that district. On his return from 
London he attended the anniversary of this society in Hull, and read a 
report which he had prepared. The following is the conclusion of this 
beautiful composition :— " The increased number of missionaries which 
are now employed, and the constant addition of new stations, will 
necessarily greatly advance the annual expenditure of the missionary 
fund ; but the increased support which it will receive by the operation 
of missionary societies, and the zeal of their officers and friends, will, 
it is believed, enable the managing committee thus to extend their efforts 
without embarrassment. It is obvious, however, that every person em- 
barked in a cause so interesting to the heart, so full of mercy to man, 
is called to be ' steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of 
the Lord.' The fire which Heaven has kindled must be kept burning 
by human diligence ; the hand which has been stretched out to relieve 
the spiritual necessities of dying men must be unwearied in its employ ; 
and the committee have confidence that the efforts of the Hull district 
society will, under these impressions, be exerted with increasing zeal. 
All the motives which can press upon humane and upon Christian feel- 
ing remain in full force. Little, indeed, has been done, in comparison 
of what remains to be done, for the salvation of the world. The light 
spreads ; but it is only as the morning on the tops of the mountains. 
Immense shades of darkness still remain, unpierced by the heavenly 
light. Large and populous empires still support the throne of Satan. 
The fanes of idolatry still defy the heavens ; the worship of idols and 
devils still debases myriads of redeemed men ; and desolation and 
misery still follow in the train of superstition, and curse the fairest 
portions of the globe. As inquiry more fully exposes the state of the 
heathen world, the scenes it displays are still such as fill the heart of 
the Christian with a deep and sorrowing sympathy. The honour of 
God, the disenthralment of man, still call for prayer and for exertion ; 
and the success which has crowned the recent attempts of the Christian 
Church ought to be considered as the voice of God, sanctioning the 
work, and rousing to redoubled efforts. On this success, granted not 
only to the Methodist missions, but to those of every other denomina- 
tion, the committee congratulate the society ; persuaded that they have 
a common cause with Christ, and his servants of every name. Every 
where the Lord is making his ' work appear unto his servants, and his 
glory unto their children ;' the Gospel is preached with ' signs follow- 
ing ;' the ' Gentiles come to its light, and kings to the brightness of its 
rising ;' the prelusive drops of that shower fall, which shall quench the 


thirst of every unwatered desert ; the cloud is but ' as a man's hand ;' 
but it is the cloud of promise, the pledge of ' abundance of rain.' It 
must fill the ample concave of the heavens, and pour its blessings upon 
all the earth. ' I the Lord will hasten it in its time.' " 

At this meeting the unfounded alarm was excited, of which Mr. 
Beecham has given the subjoined account : — 

" The business of the public meeting received a serious interruption 
while Mr. Watson was speaking. Being called upon to move one of 
the resolutions, he produced a public paper containing some unfriendly- 
strictures on the missionary operations in support of which the meeting 
was assembled ; and while he was refuting the charges of the writer, 
an alarm was given that the chapel was falling. An indescribable scene 
of confusion immediately took place. A rush was made toward the 
doors, the approaches to which were speedily blocked up by the press 
of those who were nearest, while others made to the lower windows, 
through which they dashed, and threw themselves headlong into the 
chapel yard. It was soon ascertained on the platform that the alarm 
was groundless ; and the Rev. Walter Griffith, who was in the chair, 
and others, endeavoured, though in vain, to allay the fears of the con- 
gregation, by assuring them that no part of the chapel had given way. 
Such was the noise, that their voices could not be heard at any con- 
siderable distance from the place where they stood. After some 
deliberation, it was agreed to resume the business of the meeting, in 
the hope that this proceeding would inspire confidence. The persons 
on the platform accordingly all took their seats, and turned their attention 
to the Rev. Robert Newton, who, addressing the chair, commenced an 
eloquent speech on the general subject of Christian missions to the 
heathen. This plan succeeded. Those who could not at first hear 
what was said, soon began to persuade themselves that the speakers 
had assuredly ascertained that the chapel was safe, or they would not 
have commenced again. Order was thus gradually restored, and the 
commotion finally subsided with far less disastrous consequences than 
might have been reasonably anticipated from such disorder." 

There was too much reason to believe that this alarm was mali- 
ciously given ; a loud crack was made in the gallery by means of 
some chemical preparation ; and the man who had been guilty of this 
outrage immediately rushed out of the chapel as if he believed that it 
was falling. Mr. Watson's popularity and influence rendered him an 
object of envy and direct hostility in some quarters. 

London was not the only place which Mr. Watson visited in the 
spring and summer of 1816, to assist at the formation and anniversaries 
of missionary societies. He received pressing invitations from 
several other parts of the kingdom ; and such was the interest which 
he felt in the good cause, that, as far as his health and the claims of 
his circuit would allow, he never hesitated to meet the wishes of the 
zealous men who were like minded with himself on the subject of 
missions. Wherever he went his sermons and speeches left a most 
salutary impression upon the multitudes who were drawn together by 
the attraction of his name. He taught them the value of Christianity, 
as the medicine of life, and the sovereign remedy of human misery ; 
and at the same time he so forcibly stated the obligations of the Church 
to send the Gospel to the heathen, as to awaken in many persons an 


increased attention to their own spiritual interests ; while the mission 
funds were augmented in every place where he pleaded the cause of 
the heathen. In the midst of all this popularity, his temper was highly 
devout and spiritual ; he was often deeply humbled before God ; and 
his mind was not unfrequently exercised by painful temptations. 
Sometimes it was with him a matter of extreme difficulty to find suita- 
ble subjects upon which to preach in the course of his ordinary 
ministry ; and he was often considerably agitated, even before the con- 
gregations which he was accustomed to address. Once, in the Wal- 
tham-street chapel in Hull, his feelings were so excited, that he could 
not recollect the place where his text was to be found ; and he was 
compelled to repeat the words without being able to specify the chapter 
and the verse. At another time, before the same congregation, he pro- 
nounced the benediction when he should have repeated the Lord's prayer. 

The following anecdotes which have been kindly supplied by Mr. 
Garbutt, of Hull, will show the mental embarrassment to which Mr. Wat- 
son was occasionally liable, and the facility with which he could pursue 
a train of thought, when a subject in which he felt an interest was 
suggested to his attention : — " Notwithstanding his eminent attain- 
ments, he felt very much when he had to preach to our large congre- 
gations, and had often great difficulty in fixing upon a subject. I 
remember to have once called upon him at four o'clock, on a Sunday 
afternoon, when he had to preach at six in Waltham-street chapel. 
I asked him how he was ; and he answered, ' I am as miserable as I 
well can be in this world. In the course of two hours I must appear 
before the congregation in the new chapel ; and I cannot, even if it 
would save my life, determine upon a subject on which to preach.' In 
the meanwhile his mind was relieved ; and when the time arrived he 
delivered one of his greatest sermons. 

" On another occasion he was at my house ; and in the course of 
conversation said, ' I have engaged to preach at the opening of a new 
chapel in Leeds ; the time is drawing near ; and do what I may I 
cannot think of a suitable text for the occasion.' I asked him if he 
had ever thought of Solomon's beautiful prayer at the dedication of the 
temple. He said he had not ; and on referring to it, he was exceed- 
ingly struck with 2 Chron. vi, 40, 41 : ' Now, my God, let, I beseech 
thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer 
that is made in this place. Now therefore arise, O Lord God, 
into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength : let thy 
priests, Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints 
rejoice in goodness.' On reading these words his attention was 
immediately fixed ; and for the remainder of the afternoon I lost the 
pleasure of his company. A train of interesting thought was presented 
to his view ; his active mind was at work ; he retired from the com- 
pany ; and he afterward read to me the greater part of the very copious 
notes of a sermon which he had founded upon that passage of Holy 

At the conference of 1816 Mr. Watson was appointed to the London 
east circuit, with the Rev. Messrs. Joseph Entwisle, Thomas Wood, 
John Riles, and George Marsden. His removal from his friends in 
Hull was a matter of mutual regret. By them he was highly esteemed ; 
and to some of them he had formed a very cordial attachment ; par- 


ticularly to Mr. Garbutt and Mr. Ellis, with their kind families. During 
the two years which he spent in the Hull circuit he was both happy 
and useful. His frequent intercourse with Germans in that seaport led 
him to study the German language, with reference to the Biblical 
treasures which it contains ; but it is probable that the number of his 
official duties, and the calls made upon him by friends in distant 
places, prevented him from bringing this branch of his studies to any 
very successful issue. On his arrival in the Hull circuit in the year 
1814 he found one thousand seven hundred and eighty members in the 
different societies ; and, by the blessing of God upon his labours, and 
those of his esteemed colleagues, he left two thousand. He found a 
commodious and expensive chapel in Hull nearly ready for opening, 
and considerable anxiety in some quarters as to the consequences of 
this erection ; and he left a large and respectable congregation regular 
in their attendance upon the religious services which were conducted 
there. With a heart, therefore, thankful for past mercies and success, 
and painfully affected by separation from an affectionate people, many 
of whom were his children in the Lord, he repaired to the metropolis, 
where his duties were very onerous, especially considering the deli- 
cacy of his health and constitution. The circuit was extensive and 
laborious, comprehending what are now the circuits of City-Road, 
Spitalfields, and Southwark ; and he was also appointed secretary to the 
Methodist missions ; his zeal in the mission cause, his commanding 
talents, and the well-known fact, that he was an elegant and " a ready 
scribe," having pointed him out as eminently qualified for that very 
responsible office. Mr. Marsden, who was his colleague in the circuit, 
and in the missionary secretaryship, gives the following account of 
him at this period: — 

" When we entered upon our work as missionary secretaries, it was 
agreed that I should conduct the foreign correspondence, and that Mr. 
Watson should undertake the home department. It devolved upon 
him to prepare the Annual Report of the state of the missions, all the 
periodical publications, the official correspondence with government, 
and every thing that it might be requisite for us to publish in relation 
to the missions. He entered on the work with ardour ; and as that 
blessed cause, the conversion of the heathen, continued to extend, his 
views of its importance became more enlarged, and all his powers 
appeared to be engaged in its prosperity. Through the blessing of God 
the missions prospered abroad, and the pecuniary supplies for their 
support and enlargement, raised by the pious liberality of the friends at 
home, continued to increase. During the two years in which we acted 
together as secretaries, and the three following years, in which he 
continued in the same office, and I had to act as one of the general 
treasurers, I had frequent opportunities of witnessing his earnest 
desire to promote the interests of the Redeemer in the heathen world. 
Whenever the question of the establishment of a new mission, or the 
enlargement of one of our old stations, came before the committee, he 
was always ready to advocate the farther extension of the work, 
whenever there appeared a providential opening, and a probability of 
success. Though our funds were frequently exhausted, he relied con- 
fidently upon the providence of God for those supplies which would 
be rendered necessary. 


" Frequently have I admired the accuracy of his judgment in suggest- 
ing the stations to which the temper, habits, talents, and acquirements 
of missionary candidates were adapted. When six or eight young 
men have been examined and approved by the committee, after being 
duly recommended by their respective circuits and district meetings, 
it has been a question of no ordinary moment, both in regard to them- 
selves, and the work in which they were to be employed, in what par- 
ticular parts of the mission field they should be respectively appointed 
to labour. In such cases I have almost invariably found that we 
might safely rely upon Mr. Watson's judgment. 

" During the five years in which we were associated together in the 
mission work, and which frequently required much time and exertion, 
he never relaxed in regular ministerial labours. He generally attended 
his appointments in the circuit, both on the Lord's day, and the week- 
day evenings. All his powers, mental and bodily, were consecrated 
to the service of God. 

" Connected with the duties of the ministry is the visitation of the 
sick ; and even in those seasons of peculiar toil Mr. Watson was not 
inattentive to this part of his charge. With pleasure have I frequently 
heard of the very affectionate and useful manner in which he dis- 
charged this duty of the pastoral office. He spent sufficient time in 
his visits to enter calmly into conversation with the afflicted ; endea- 
vouring to gain a knowledge of the spiritual state of each person, that 
he might give suitable consolation and advice, and unite with them in 
appropriate acts of confession, supplication, and thanksgiving. To those 
who were in distress he was particularly kind and soothing ; opening 
to their views the promises of God, the perfect atonement of Christ, the 
tenderness of the Divine mercy, and encouraging them to place an 
absolute reliance upon the Divine faithfulness and love. He led the 
sufferer to the foot of the cross, and taught him to rest fully and con- 
stantly upon the sacrifice and intercession of the Redeemer. 

" When we were stationed together I also often heard of the very 
profitable and edifying manner in which he met the classes, at the 
quarterly renewal of the society tickets. He endeavoured in those 
meetings to get a knowledge of the spiritual state of each member ; 
and with all fidelity and affection he gave to each his portion of admo- 
nition, counsel, or encouragement. In the various employments and 
duties connected with the work of the ministry he proved himself to be 
a man of God." 

Mr. Watson's residence was in the parish of St. George's in the east, 
near Wapping ; and a small room was then rented in the City-Road, 
for the transaction of the mission business. Thither he resorted daily 
for the discharge of his duties as secretary to the missions. 

Soon after his arrival in London he was requested by his friend, Mr 
Edmondson, then stationed in Worcester, to pay a visit to that city, for 
the purpose of preaching in behalf of one of the Methodist charities. 
The following is an extract from his letter in reply It shows that he 
still retained a pleasing remembrance of the happy year which he 
spent in early life with that intelligent and friendly man in the Leices- 
ter circuit. 


London, Oct. 8th, 1816. 
It would give me pleasure to meet your views in coming to Wor- 
cester ; .not that I have any pleasure in preaching occasional sermons, 
for they are burdensome enough ; but for the pleasure of your society, 
and that of your excellent family. I ever consider that I owe much to 
your friendship in a former period of life, and I shall remain gratefully 
sensible of it. It would give me pleasure to join the social circle, and 
" fight all our battles o'er again ;" but it is the vanity of life, that our 
pleasures are not always at our command. 

The following letters, which he addressed to his friends in Hull, will 
show the peculiarities of his situation ; as well as his views of Me- 
thodism in London at that particular period. The state of society in the 
metropolis is such as to prevent that free and constant intercourse 
among religious people, which is so common in many country places. 
This circumstance arrested the attention of Mr. Watson, as it does that 
of almost every other man when he first becomes acquainted with the 
London Methodists. 

W C. Ellis, Esq., Surgeon, Hull. 

My Dear Friends, Mr. and Mrs. Ellis, — To be silent is not to 
forget. Even the bustle of London, its novelties, its fatigues, and its 
distracting whirl have not so absorbed or diverted my thoughts, as to 
prevent me from indulging many musings on the past, as the luxury of 
those soft regrets which are felt by minds that can feel when the 
thoughts and friendships of other days return. 

I am here a very insulated being, and am likely to remain so. You 
know there is no individuality in London. If there be kindred minds, 
they meet too seldom to become one. It requires many strokes from 
the smith to weld his iron, though both pieces may be of a proper heat. 
However, we almost always find things balanced by Providence. I 
have indeed no time for friendships here. From morning till night I 
am in duty ; and at night am sometimes so weary, that they would be 
most interesting friends indeed (some such as I have known) who would 
keep me awake. If you ask me how I like London ; I can only say 
that, as a place, I had rather be elsewhere, surrounded by the works of 
God, rather than those of man ; where I could apostrophize with 

Muscosi fontes, et somno mollior herba, 

Et qua vos rara viridis tegit arbutus umbra ;* 

but as the centre of every kind of intelligence, it has its interest. As 
a Methodist I know all that passes in the connection, as an English- 
man, all that is transacted in the empire, much sooner than I could 
know it elsewhere ; and yet perhaps this pleasure is ideal ; for news 
is news, though it be much " older than our ale," or porter either. — ■ 
Methodism in London does not, I know, stand high in your opinion ; 
but you saw it where it is certainly much lower than at other places. 
At City-Road we have a large and very respectable congregation ; and 
also at Southwark ; and though the congregation is not so respectable 
at Spitalfields, it is large and, for London, lively. 

* Ye mossy springs, inviting easy sleep, 
Ye trees, whose leafy shades those mossy fountains keep. — Dryden. 


I have had, upon the. whole, pleasure in my public labours ; and much 
of the peace of God which passeth all understanding, along with active 
engagements. This is the best of all, to feel ourselves ever with God ; 
and to pass through things temporal with the things eternal fully and 
constantly in view. For what is life 1 How unsubstantial till filled with 
those feelings and acts which connect it with the perfection of eternity, 
and turn it into the vestibule of the future spacious temple of being, 
through which we cannot pass, and from which we can never be 
excluded ! 

My engagements do not allow me to take many journeys, except in 
the immediate neighbourhood of town ; so that I am not likely to be 
thrown into the way of a visit to Hull before your missionary meeting, 
for which I shall reserve myself, if I be spared. Till then I shall not 
have the pleasure of seeing friends whose remembrance will always 
call forth my best regards, and my earnest prayers for their best 

To Mr. Robert Garbutt, Merchant, Hull. 

St. George's, East, Nov. 4th, 1816. 

My Dear Friend, — Should I apologize for not writing sooner, I 
might fill my paper with various reasons, some personal, some public, 
some philosophical, and others not at all so ; let me then sum up the 
whole of them in one negative : it has not been for want of affection. 
The remembrance of my Hull friends will ever be dear to me ; and I 
never think of you without associations of mingled regret and pleasure. 

As self is always so near at hand, and is a subject never difficult to 
speak of, I may begin by saying that, as to myself, I have not been upon 
the whole so well in health, as I was at Hull ; though I hope I have 
had my seasoning, and I begin to go through my work with more vigour. 
The mere circuit labour is not, I think, more than that at Hull ; but our 
extra work is greater, and the walking is formidable. I have, for in- 
stance, to go regularly every day to the mission office, in the City-Road, 
about two miles from my house, and return to dinner. Then I have 
my evening walk to preach, sometimes two or three miles more. To 
this are to be added all the supernumerary walks which business or 
curiosity may call for. How much time I have for study and reading 
you may then guess ; and indeed I have been obliged to turn the streets 
of London into a study ; and sometimes fall into a reverie, at the hazard 
of being upset by a porter, or dashed on the pavement by some fiery 

Methodism in London is not what it is in Yorkshire. There wants 
zeal in the leading men ; and their union is not so close as the com- 
munion of saints, and the prosperity of a Christian society, demand. — 
Our congregations are, however, usually good on the Sundays ; but on 
the week evenings they are inferior to yours. However, I think the 
work is prospering upon the whole. I have had many seasons of en- 
largement and comfort in preaching. 

You would see advertized on the November Magazine, that the 
pocket book would contain my portrait ; but I neglected to sit in time, 
and so it could not be engraved. This arises from my indifference to 
such honours. 

In the midst of general distress I fear Hull still supplies its share. 



May all these sufferings teach us that remedies for national distress 
are only to be found in national amendment ; and that righteousness 
alone exalteth a nation ! May we, my dear friend, be more intent on 
the prize of our high calling! There are blessings which never 
cheat us ; there is a good we can command ; there is a peace ever flow- 
ing, and never exhausted. We are indeed living for eternity, and that 
is at hand ! Let us trim our lamps anew, and pour their lustre on all 
around us. 

We are all much as at Hull. Mrs. Watson joins in kind regards to 
Mrs. Garbutt and family. For every instance of your friendship and 
kindness my heart sincerely thanks you ; and be assured I am, as ever, 
yours very truly. 

P. S. Present my kind remembrance to Mr. and Mrs. Middleton, 
and all the preachers and friends. 

The friends in Hull were very desirous of obtaining Mr. Watson's 
services at their missionary meeting in the spring of 1817 The fol- 
lowing is one of his letters in reply to their invitation. It places in a 
striking light the cordiality of his friendship with some individuals in 
that town, and his strong affection for the people in general. It was 
impossible to treat him with respect and kindness without calling forth 
corresponding feelings in his pious and generous heart. 

To Mr. Robert Garbutt, Hull. 

14, City- Road, Jan. 21, 1817. 
My Dear Friend, — The reason of my not answering was the best 
in the world ; and one against which all the syllogisms of Aristotle 
would not serve to compound an argument : I had nothing to say. — ■ 
And yet, strange as it may appear, I even now answer without being 
able to reply. The solution of this problem is, that our new plan is in 
making, and I shall not know my appointments for April till about a 
week hence. I can then contrive, and send my ultimatum, (to speak 
diplomatically,) both on the possibility of my coming, and the week in 
April when I can come most conveniently. I do not disguise that I 
wish to come ; not to make a speech, for at that work I am a poor hand ; 
not to preach a sermon ; but to see those I have seen in Hull, and to 
feel what I have often felt during two of the happiest years of my life. 
Be assured I will not fail you, if I can avoid it ; and I will write expli- 
citly in a few days. 

I thank you for the invitation to your house ; but perhaps you 
recollect that I was previously engaged to Mr. Ellis ; and when that 
matter was canvassed at your friendly table, when I was spending the 
evening with you, I proposed to settle the affair by dividing my time 
between you. In any case the matter will easily be settled between 
you ; as I hope we shall have, during my short stay, as great an 
intercommunity among my particular friends of the two families as 

Present my kind remembrance to Mrs. Garbutt and family, to Mr. 
and Mrs. Ellis, and the preachers and friends 

The first general report of the Methodist missions which it fell to 
the lot of Mr. Watson to draw up bears the date of 1816, and was pub- 


lished about the end of that year. The facts which it details are of 
the most cheering kind ; its diction is forcible and eloquent ; and it 
bears throughout a character of devout exultation. The writer evi- 
dently " felt his inspiration in his theme ;" and his facts and appeals 
are equally stirring. The liberality with which the friends at home 
furnished the pecuniary supplies called for thanksgivings to God, who 
thus disposed them to employ their property in his service ; and the 
marked providential openings for missionary efforts in the heathen 
world, and the success which every where attended the dissemination 
of Divine truth, and especially in the island of Ceylon, where the 
mission had been but recently commenced, warranted the indulgence 
of the most sanguine hopes, and called for exertions still more strenu- 
ous and extensive. 

During the year ending February 1st, 1814, the regular income of 
the Methodist mission fund was .£6,820. 2*. 6d. ; and by means of an 
extraordinary public collection, for the purpose of paying off arrears 
due to the treasurers, a farther sum of £2,464. 7*. Ad. was raised. A 
considerable part of this amount was applied to the spread of the Gos- 
pel in the more neglected parts of England and Wales, under the name 
of home missions. In consequence of the establishment of district 
societies, the holding of missionary meetings, and the employment of 
collectors, the report of the following year states that the sum raised for 
missionary purposes was £9,554. 4s. Aid. ; and during the period ex- 
tending from August 18th, 1815, to June, 1816, the sum of £10,423. 10s. 
9d. was raised by the friends of the Methodist missions, and placed at 
the disposal of the managing committee. 

The report drawn up by Mr. Watson, after referring to the feelings 
with which the committee entered upon their labours for the year, 
speaks in the following strain : — " The favourable reception of the 
missionaries sent to Ceylon, the successes of their early labours, and 
their earnest entreaties for additional help, in order to avail themselves 
of those opportunities of promoting the cause of Christ which in every 
direction presented themselves, had given a new impulse to the mis- 
sionary zeal of the Methodist societies and congregations. They saw 
that Methodist missions had a providential designation to the eastern 
as well as to the western world ; while the additional light which was 
thrown on the wretched condition of the millions of Asia, by the com- 
munications of the missionaries, had more deeply awakened their 
sympathies, and kindled more ardent desires to make known to them 
the grace and salvation of the glorious Gospel. 

" The lamented death of the late Rev. Dr. Coke had itself height- 
ened those feelings. The work in which his soul had so greatly 
delighted, and in the prosecution of which he died, seemed to derive 
new interest from those retrospections to which the contemplation of 
his life, character, and labours necessarily led ; and his loss, while it 
dictated the necessity of the exertions of the many to supply the efforts 
of one, diffused the spirit of holy zeal with those regrets which conse- 
crated his memory. 

" The formation of missionary societies, and the meetings held for 
that purpose, had also a large share in awakening a deeper and more 
general concern for the conversion of the heathen. Missions to various 
parts of the world had long been conducted by the Methodist confer- 


ence, and supported with great liberality ; and the West India mission 
in particular stands a noble monument of the faithful labours of the 
missionaries, and of the liberal support they met with at home ; but by 
the operation of those societies, the deplorable state of the heathen 
was more fully displayed, the motives for the exertion of Christians 
were enforced, and the encouraging prospects of success in this great 
cause unfolded. Persons of all ranks of society had offered their 
service of time and money, and plans were adopted which promised 
a permanent and increasing supply for the support and enlargement of 
those benevolent undertakings, by which alone the blessings of Chris- 
tianity can be fully communicated to mankind. 

" The hopes which these circumstances excited in the committee 
have not been disappointed. Success, in different degrees, has 
crowned the labours of the missionaries ; a number of suitable young 
men have devoted themselves to this department of the work of God ; 
the attention of the committee has been called to new and important 
stations of great promise ; the liberality of the public has enabled the 
committee considerably to increase the number of missionaries ; and 
the spirit of Christian zeal which animates the bosoms of the nume- 
rous friends of the Methodist missions, expanded and corroborated as 
it is by the spirit of prayer, offered with increased ardour, and more 
direct reference to the success of missions, promises that perma- 
nence of principle, and activity of operation, which must issue, under 
the continued blessing of God, in the diffusion of the knowledge of 
Christ, with all its train of blessings, civil, religious, and eternal." 

Having described, in order, the state of the several missions under 
the committee's direction, the report goes on to say, " During the last 
twelve months the committee have sent out nineteen additional mis- 
sionaries to different parts of the world : four to Ceylon, one to Bom- 
bay, one to the Cape of Good Hope, four to the West Indies, two to 
Nova-Scotia, three to Newfoundland, one to Quebec, one to Gibraltar, 
one to Brussels, and one to France ; making the whole number of mis- 
sionaries employed on foreign stations, under the direction of the 
Methodist conference, eighty. 

" These increased exertions have induced a considerable increase 
of expenditure ; a circumstance which will occasion joy and not 
regret, so long as the means afforded by the increasing liberality of the 
friends of religion are prudently and economically expended. Thus to 
apply the funds entrusted to their charge, has been the constant object 
of the committee; and though many heavy expenses have occurred, 
especially in the Asiatic mission, yet these have arisen from the pecu- 
liar circumstances in which the first missionaries were placed ; the 
great expenses of outfit, and the excessive cost of every thing which 
is necessary to the comfort of a European in India. Some of these 
expenses were, however, temporary and accidental ; and now that the 
mission is assuming a settled character and system, though for some 
time its regular expenditure must be very considerable, its extraordi- 
nary demands will not, it is hoped, again rise to the same amount. 

" The committee have to congratulate the subscribers in general on 
the increase of the funds. The receipts of the year have more than 
equalled the large expenditure, beside the payment of large arrears. — 
This the committee ascribe, under the blessing of God, to the operation 


of missionary societies, adult and juvenile, formed in different parts 
of the kingdom ; and carried, in some places, with great zeal, into full 
efficiency. Here the rich and the poor have met together ; the aged, 
and the youth, and the child, have united in the service of Christ, and 
presented their offerings to his cause ; and the committee trust that, 
wherever it is practicable, the recommendation of the conference of 
1814 on this subject will be adopted, that the supply may be constant 
as the moral necessities of an unsaved world ; and increasing as, by 
the providence of God, are the opportunities for communicating to it 
that only means of salvation, the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour 
Jesus Christ. 

" To the effect of that greater publicity which has lately been given 
to the state of the heathen world by different means, and the enforce- 
ment of the obligations of Christians to extend the kingdom of their 
Lord, the committee also attribute that increase of missionary zeal 
which has this year furnished them with a full supply of missionaries 
for every station. Not less than twelve preachers, stationed in Eng- 
lish circuits, and enjoying all the comforts and advantages of the 
home ministry, have offered themselves as foreign missionaries, exclu- 
sive of those who had previously acted only as local preachers. Of 
these several have already taken their departure for different stations ; 
and the rest wait the call of God, and the direction of their brethren. 
Their piety, their talents, and in some cases considerable learning, 
give the best promise of future usefulness in all the departments of 
missionary labour ; and the committee cannot refrain from calling upon 
the grateful acknowledgments of their friends, to ' the Lord of the har- 
vest,' for thus ' sending forth more labourers into the harvest.' With 
the increase of the funds there has been also an increase of men suited 
to the work, and willing to embrace it. This is a coincidence which 
cannot fail to lead to the recognition of those evident indications of 
Providence, which now, more than ever, make it imperious upon us to 
go on in the name of the Lord. 

" Increasing, however, as are our exertions, and those of almost every 
other religious denomination, the committee would still keep it impress- 
ed upon the minds of all who have so willingly co-operated with them 
in these attempts to spread the knowledge of Christ, that little has been 
done by any body of Christians separately, or by all collectively, in 
comparison of what remains to do. Active, united, and even formida- 
ble, as have been the movements of the Christian world, for some 
years past, against the kingdom of darkness and sin, only a few of its 
outworks have been won, and little more than mere facilities obtained 
for extensive conquest. While more than one half of the subjects of 
the British empire itself are pagans, every obligation of patriotism, 
policy, and religion, demands persevering exertions to circulate the 
vital principles of true godliness through every member of the political 
body, until an empire, fully Christianized, shall be presented to the eye 
of the world, exhibiting, as in the first ages of the Church, the glorious 
triumphs of the Gospel over the vices which deform, and the miseries 
which desolate, the fairest portions of the globe ; and displaying, for 
the instruction and imitation of pagan Asia in particular, the beneficial 
effects of Christianity on the civil and moral interests of man. 

" Were there even no other field for missionary labours than that 


which is presented by the British empire, comprising so great a por- 
tion of India, and numerous Asiatic islands, a part of Africa, and the 
colonies of the western Archipelago, and of North America, the united 
efforts of all Christians for many years to come would find a large 
share of occupation ; but beyond the bounds of the British empire, ex- 
tensive as it is, and comprehending so many large and populous pagan 
countries, lie scenes of affecting moral misery. Immense shades of 
darkness still remain unpierced by a ray of heavenly light. Empires, 
composed of hundreds of millions of souls, still remain under the power 
of Satan ; and the worship of idols and devils still robs ' God over all, 
blessed for ever,' of the worship due to his holy name by his redeemed 
creatures. While the world presents such an aspect, there is surely 
enough of wretchedness to keep alive our sympathies, and enough of 
sin to rouse into vivid operation the feelings of indignant jealousy for 
the honour of the Lord of hosts. The debt of the Christian world to 
the heathen remains undischarged. It has run awfully into arrears ; 
and the favourable opportunities of access to every part of the pagan 
world are infallible indications that the Governor and Judge of the 
world, and especially of the Churches, now demands its payment. The 
successes of the missions of modern times are certainly not a discharge 
from the service, but the strongest incitements to pledge every energy 
anew to its holy objects. The efficiency of the Gospel has been 
again demonstrated in our own day in the conversion and salvation of 
heathens of every class, of every clime, and of every form of pagan 
superstition. Every missionary enterprise, if prudently, and, above 
all, if piously, undertaken, — if it be consecrated by singleness of view, 
and supported by prayer, — has a moral certainty of success. Every 
sign of the times indicates that the period is fully come Avhen the 
outcasts of men shall be remembered, and they who are ready to perish 
shall obtain mercy. Pressing, therefore, as the state of affairs is, the 
committee are persuaded that the last retrenchment which any person 
alive to the glory of God, and the salvation of men, will make, when- 
ever obliged to make retrenchment, will be the sums he has devoted, 
first, to the support of religion at home, and, second, to the natural and 
necessary consequence of the former, the extension of religion abroad. 
God calls, and his people follow. He who still goes on ' from con- 
quering to conquer,' now more evidently puts himself at the head of 
his sacramental host. The battle is turned to the gate ; and none, it 
is hoped, will be found treacherous to the grand and momentous strug- 
gle , none who will not wield his weapon in the war, or stretch out his 
hand to replenish the treasury. ' Signs of the Son of man,' signs of 
glory and conquest, transfuse a new vigour into the heart, and spread 
new prospects to the hopes of the righteous. ' Bel boweth down, Nebo 
stoopeth;' the light of the morning, on the tops of the mountains, catches 
the waiting eyes of those who sit in the shadow of death. The captive 
exile hastens that he may be delivered. ' The whole creation' of 
rational creatures, crushed beneath the accumulated weight of the 
tyrannizing superstitions of ages, ' groaneth and travaileth in pain to 
be delivered from the bondage of corruption.' All is preparation and 
movement. ' The rod of his strength is gone out of Zion,' and he must 
' reign in the midst of his enemies.' His ' people,' too, are ' willing in 
the day of his power ;' and nothing remains to give them their full share 


in the blessing and glory of that victory, which is to re-assert the 
rights of God to the love and homage of a world of redeemed men, but 
that they be ' steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work 
of the Lord.' Their labour, directed by his word, and animated by his 
Spirit, cannot be in vain. 

" The public will perceive that, according to the resolution of the last 
conference, the missionary fund has been applied solely to foreign ob- 
jects, with the exception of a sum voted by the committee toward the 
expenses of the mission in the Irish language for the last year, and 
another for the support of the same object for the year ensuing. The 
importance of that mission, in affording instruction, in the native Irish 
language, to numbers of the inhabitants of the dark parts of Ireland, is 
the reason which has induced the committee to bring the expenses in- 
curred by it upon the mission fund ; as no other alternative presented 
itself, than to do this, or entirely to abandon a work which has already 
effected so much good. The committee, however, wish it to be under- 
stood, that its aid has been extended only to the six Irish* missionaries 
who preach in the native language, and for that reason only. The 
other preachers in Ireland, who act as missionaries, and are called by 
that name, have received nothing from the missionary fund." 

The excellence of these extracts is a sufficient justification of their 
insertion in this place, notwithstanding their length. As this was also 
the first general missionary report written by Mr. Watson, and written 
immediately after his official connection with the missions, it was re- 
quisite to quote somewhat largely from it, to show the spirit in which 
he entered upon his work, and the tone which he assumed in reference 
to it, when addressing the people by whom the .cause was supported. 
From this time to the end of his life he sustained the office of mis- 
sionary secretary ; he was the writer of nearly the whole of the re- 
ports, from year to year ; and it will be seen, by these memoirs of his 
life, that his zeal for the advancement of missions suffered no abate- 
ment ; his hopes of success never flagged ; and the interest of his 
annual reports rather increased than diminished till his heart and hand 
ceased to move. 


Attacks upon the West India Mission — Mr. Watson's Defence of that Mission 
— Speech at the Anniversary of the Bible Society — Conference of 1817 — Mr. 
Watson's re-appointment to London — Letter to Mr. Ellis — Missionary Report for 
1817 — Mr. Watson preaches at the opening of a new Chapel in Oxford — Singu- 
lar Adventure on that Occasion. 

The wisdom of the appointment of Mr. Watson to the office of mis- 
sionary secretary was apparent to every one when his first report was 
put into circulation ; and it was not less manifest when he was called, 
through the medium of the press, to defend the West India missions 
against misrepresentation and calumny. These missions had been be- 
gun under circumstances strikingly providential ; and were prosecuted 
under the direction of Dr. Coke with admirable zeal and effect, and at 
a vast expense of money and life. Several of the planters were humane 


men, and encouraged the instruction of their slaves in the principles 
of religion ; for they found that the converted negroes were honest, and 
from a sense of duty discharged the tasks allotted them ; but others 
were decidedly hostile to all attempts at negro improvement, and de- 
sired no incentive to slave labour but that which was supplied by the 
cart whip, and similar instruments of torture. The spiritual interests 
of the negro were either the subjects of profane ridicule, or were abso- 
lutely forgotten. The black man, though redeemed by the blood of the 
Son of God, was regarded merely as a machine for the manufacture 
of sugar. Unhappily the enemies of missions formed the majority, and 
were perpetually inventing tales of insurrection, in which they were 
careful to implicate the missionaries ; and some of the local legisla- 
tures embarrassed these ministers of Christ by persecuting enactments. 
The object of the missionaries was purely spiritual. They taught the 
negroes Christianity, with a reference to the salvation of their souls, 
and had no ulterior design whatever. They saw the people perishing 
in ignorance and sin ; and felt themselves bound to obey the command 
of the Saviour, who has directed that " repentance and remission of 
sins should be preached in his name among all nations." When the 
slaves were impressed under the ministry of the word, the missionaries 
united them together in Christian societies, that they might watch over 
one another's religious and moral conduct. The slaves were accustom- 
ed to promiscuous intercourse ; and the missionaries explained to them 
the necessity, sanctity, and permanence of the marriage tie, and joined 
them together in holy matrimony ; at the same time inculcating upon 
them the duties of contentment, submission, and diligence. Though 
the missionaries never interfered with the civil condition of the slaves, 
yet it was evident to every person of discernment, who had watched 
the progress of events in the world, that Christianity and slavery could 
not finally subsist together ; especially such slavery as prevailed in 
the West Indies. The converted negroes became intelligent, thought- 
ful, industrious, and faithful in every domestic relation. Christianity 
prepared them to discharge the duties, and enjoy the rights of civil 
liberty ; it even taught them, " if they might be made free, to use it 
rather ;" and as its light and influence spread among the negro popula- 
tion, slavery was seen in all its enormity. The men, therefore, who 
deprecated all alteration in the civil condition of the slave, and wished 
to rivet the chain upon his neck for ever, endeavoured to arrest the pro- 
gress of evangelical instruction, and to perpetuate brutal ignorance, as 
best suited to a people who were treated like cattle, and as the only 
means of securing a permanent property in the negro and his hapless 
offspring. These adversaries of the truth professed to be friendly to ne- 
gro instruction and conversion ; they only wanted to get rid of the mis- 
sionaries, as being dangerous to the community, and incompetent to 
the task which they had undertaken ; well knowing, that, in the absence 
of the missionary, there was no man to care for the spiritual interests 
of the slave, or to teach him the way of life. 

The advocates of ignorance and of slavery were at once numerous, 
bold, and determined ; and in the senate, in the public papers, and in 
pamphlets, held up the missionaries to general scorn and reprobation. 
In the month of June, 1816, Mr. Barham, M. P., for Stockbridge, stated 
in the house of commons, that the Methodist missionaries in the West 


Indies, under a mask of religion, inculcated principles of sedition, 
taught disobedience to masters, and encouraged among the negroes 
those delusive and pernicious ideas which led in one instance to open 
insurrection, and in others to a prevailing state of agitation and discon- 
tent. The committee applied to him through the medium of the Rev. 
James Wood, one of the general treasurers, requesting him to supply 
them with the requisite names and facts, that they might call to an account 
the men who had so offended ; declaring that such conduct was in 
direct opposition to the instructions which the missionaries had re- 
ceived, and which they had individually pledged themselves to observe. 
The honourable member refused to enter into any explanation on the 
subject of these grave charges, except in the house of commons. At 
the request of the committee Mr. Butterworth brought the matter before 
parliament ; when Lord Castlereagh, and the chancellor of the exche- 
quer, bore honourable testimony to the exemplary conduct of the Me- 
thodist missionaries in the West India colonies, and the benefits 
resulting from their labours ; and Mr. Barham declared that it was not 
his intention to cast any reflection upon the missionaries employed by 
that body to which it was well known Mr. Butterworth belonged. He 
acknowledged his inability, in fact, to discriminate between one reli- 
gious sect and another ; but stated that he had been informed that men 
who were called Methodist missionaries had been guilty of the delin- 
quencies which he had imputed to them. The names of the offenders, and 
the times and places at which these missionaries had thus dishonoured 
their sacred office, he was not prepared to specify. Mr. Butterworth 
withdrew his motion at the request of Lord Castlereagh ; his lordship 
declaring, in behalf of his majesty's government, that there lay no 
charge whatever against the missionaries who had been censured so 
harshly by name. 

Mr. Barham had a zealous coadjutor in Mr. Marryat, himself also a 
member of the senate. This gentleman attacked the character and 
ministrations of the Methodist missionaries in various pamphlets, in 
which he was assisted by anonymous writers in different periodical 
journals ; and so loud was the clamour, that Mr. Watson was induced 
to publish " A Defence of the Wesleyan Methodist Missions in the 
West Indies : including a Refutation of the Charges in Mr. Marryat's 
' Thoughts on the Abolition of the Slave Trade,' &c, and other Publi- 
cations ; with Facts and Anecdotes illustrative of the Moral State of 
the Slaves, and of the Operation of Missions." The publication of 
this pamphlet was a seasonable antidote to the unfounded calumnies 
against missionaries in the West Indies, which were then urged with 
such frequency and vehemence, that they had already begun to make 
an injurious impression upon the public mind ; and it afforded to the 
friends and supporters of the missions to the negroes a ground of 
honest triumph and congratulation. Never was the defence of a right- 
eous cause more complete. The author's piety, his eloquence, his wit, 
his philanthropy, his statesman-like views, and his powers of argumen- 
tation, are all brought with admirable effect to bear upon his subject. 

There were several Wesleyan ministers stationed in different parts 
of Great Britain, who had formerly been missionaries to the negroes ; 
and the committee with whom Mr. Watson was connected addressed a 
circular letter to each of these excellent men, and to some of their 


brethren in the West Indies, proposing various questions respecting 
the religious and moral condition of the slaves before they were brought 
under missionary instruction and influence ; the effect of Christianity 
upon their spirit and habits ; the manner in which the missionaries had 
been treated in the different islands ; and other subjects' connected with 
the mission ; and the assumptions and fallacious reasonings of Mr: 
Marryat were confronted by the separate and independent testimony 
of the Rev. Messrs. William Warrener, Richard Pattison, John Brow- 
nell, Joseph Taylor, William Gilgrass, Myles C. Dixon, William' Fish; 
Daniel Campbell, Isaac Bradnack, and John Willis. 

As a historical record this pamphlet will maintain a permanent value. 
Some years hence, when every vestige of slavery shall have disap- 
peared in the British West India' colonies, when people of every colour 
dwelling in those beautiful islands shall live under the protection of 
equal laws, and the negro shall rival the white man in intelligence* 
property, and every thing that can elevate and adorn human nature, 
this' pamphlet will be referred to as supplying a specimen of the heart- 
less calumnies heaped upon the benevolent and self-denying mission- 
aries, who were, under the blessing of Providence, the true authors of 
so happy a change. For it is to the Operation of missions, unques- 
tionably, that the abolition of slavery is to be attributed ; though nothing 
could be more remote from the views of the missionaries when they 
first entered uport their work. The missions have brought to light the 
real state of the slave ; and the murderous violence with which some 
of the planters have assailed the men who were engaged in his instruc- 
tion ultimately roused the people of England to petition parliament for 
the overthrow of the system. 

Having shown by irrefragable evidence, that before the missiona- 
ries commenced their labours in the West Indies the negroes hi 
general had scarcely the slightest conception of religion in any form ;■ 
that they had no Sabbath ; were almost entire strangers to the mar- 
riage relation ; that the clergy in general, residing in the West Indies, 
did not consider the negroes as any part of their charge ; and that by 
means of missionary labour many thousands of these degraded people 
had been raised to a character of purity, loyalty, and happiness," 
enduring the evils of slavery "with a glad heart and free," enjoying the 
blessings of Christianity both in life and in death ; Mr. Watson con- 
cludes his publication in the following emphatic and impressive man- 
ner : — " If the object of this party, so zealous in the cause they have 
espoused as to put every periodical work and newspaper they can influ- 
ence into requisition, to convey their charges and insinuations against 
those who are employed in instructing and Christianizing the slave' 
population of the colonies, be also to influence the British parliament 
in favour of some restrictive measure they may intend to propose, this' 
attempt is still bolder than the incitement of the colonists, and implies 
a very indecent reflection upon a legislature which of late has beeh 
more than usually active in directing its attention to the improvement 
Of. the education and morals of the lower classes ; and which is not 
more distinguished for the talents of its members, :han for a general 
and established character of religious liberality. To suppose it even' 
possible for the British parliament to adopt the jealous feelings, the 
intolerance and the total disregard for the religious interests of the 

Vol. I II 



negro slaves, by which they have distinguished themselves, can only 
be accounted for by the proneness of men to measure others by their 
own standard. The presumption, however, cannot be so high, nor the 
real character of parliament so little known, as to embolden them to 
make this attempt directly. We shall doubtless hear again, as for- 
merly, of their anxiety for the instruction of the negroes, their wish 
that a better provision may be made for that purpose by the Church of 
England ; and then, (which is the key to the whole,) of the necessity 
of discountenancing the efforts of all other missionary societies. But 
with the evidence which has already been presented of the real state 
of the negroes, the acknowledged impracticability of providing ade- 
quate religious instruction for them by other means than are now in 
operation, the good which has already been effected, the important 
moral influence which is in present activity, and the extensive benefits, 
both civil and moral, which are every year developing themselves, the 
cause of the African may be left without anxiety in the hands of the 
British parliament, and to the opinion of the Bitish public, notwith- 
standing the active means of misrepresentation, and the calumnies 
which have been employed to bring into discredit missions of the 
first order in point of civil importance, and of the greatest magnitude in 
respect of success. But there are deeper interests involved in them, 
and which cannot appeal to the heart in vain while our Christianity is 
any thing more than a name, and our professed respect for religion 
better than a hollow pretence. Are they considerations of no weight 
with the public, in an age of generous philanthropy, and enlightened 
zeal for the progress of the truth of God, that for so many years thou- 
sands of neglected slaves have been sought out and instructed by mis- 
sionaries of different denominations, when none beside cared for them? 
that thousands in that period have passed into a happy immortality, 
having been previously prepared for it by the hallowing influence of reli- 
gion ? that a system of instruction has been commenced, which, if 
unchecked in its operation, will prepare an ignorant and abject class of 
men to read with advantage those Holy Scriptures which it is now the 
noble ambition of so large and respectable a class of society at home 
to furnish to every nation under heaven ; and which will extend all 
those blessings through the West Indies, which are so justly consi- 
dered as attached to the preaching of the Gospel, and to the possession 
of the sacred oracles ? Is it a powerless appeal made to humane and 
religious feeling, that crimes have been diminished among the slaves 
wherever the influence of the Gospel has been permitted freely to 
exert itself? that punishments have been proportionally mitigated? 
that the moral standard, however low it may yet be, has been greatly 
raised in many of the islands ? that so many cheering spectacles of 
happy and orderly negro families are exhibited ? that the negro 
hut resounds with the praises of Christ ; and the infant children of 
Ethiopia, under the care of their converted mothers, are taught to 
stretch out their hands unto God ? Such have been the effects, more 
or less strikingly displayed, wherever the missionaries have laboured. 
' The wilderness and the solitary place have been glad for them.' And 
is this fair prospect, — at once the effect of moral cultivation, and the 
demonstration of its efficiency, — to be broken in upon and trampled 
down at the call of men by whose exertions a ray of light was never 


Conveyed into the mind of a slave, nor any of his vices corrected ; who 
can survey without a sigh his mind in ruins, the habitation of those 
prowling passions which are the objects of their dread, and the instru- 
ments of his misery ; content only if he continues to crouch under the 
whip; and to yield his appointed quantum of labour ; and indignant, not 
at their own neglect, and his vices, but at the men who have expended 
health and life in his cause and theirs 1 A work of so much mercy can- 
not be placed under the protection of the public sentiment of the people 
of this country in vain ; nor will the parliament of Great Britain allow 
undertakings so dear to humanity and piety to be obstructed by 
calumny and clamour. The appeal which, when the bodily wrongs 
only of the sons of Africa were in question, roused every feeling of 
humane interest in the parliament and people of Great Britain, will 
not be less powerful when connected with the immortal interests of the 
mind, and the solemnities of eternity: "Am I not a man, and a 


Mr. Watson's correspondence with the missionaries in the West- 
Indies, and frequent intercourse with the excellent men who had 
returned from that field of labour, rendered him perfectly familiar with 
the state of society in those colonies, and produced in his mind a deep 
conviction of the essential cruelty and wickedness of negro slavery; 
and this conviction at length led him to co-operate, in a manner the 
most cordial and efficient, with the Christian philanthropists who so 
long and honourably laboured to effect the extinction of that enormous 
evil. Nor was this at all surprising. He must have had a heart of 
adamant who was not moved to pity and indignation by the recital of 
negro wrongs and sufferings ; and especially when he saw the deter- 
mined and persevering attempts which were made to deny to the 
oppressed the only consolation applicable to their case, — the consola- 
tion of religion. In his " Defence of the Missions" Mr. Watson partly 
draws aside the veil, and exhibits the miseries of slavery. The fol- 
lowing fact, supplied by Mr. Gilgrass, speaks volumes on this subject : 
— " A master of slaves, who lived near us in Kingston, Jamaica, exer- 
cised his barbarities on a Sabbath morning, while we were worshipping 
God in the chapel ; and the cries of the female sufferers have frequently 
interrupted us in our devotions. But there was no redress for them or 
for us. This man wanted money; and one of the female slaves having 
two fine children, he sold one of them, and the child was torn from her 
maternal affection. In the agony of her feelings she made a hideous 
howling ; and for that crime was flogged. Soon after he sold her 
other child. This ' turned her heart within her,' and impelled her into 
a kind of madness. She howled night and day in the yard, tore her 
hair, ran up and down the streets and the parade, rending the heavens 
with her crieSj and literally watering the earth with her tears. Her 
constant cry was, ' Da wicked massa Jew, he sell me children. Will no 
Buckra massa pity nega ? What me do ? Me no have one child.' 1 As 
she stood before my window, she said, ' My massa,' (lifting up her 
hands toward heaven,) ' do me. massa minister, pity me ! Me heart do 
so' (shaking herself violently,) ' me heart do so, because me have no 
child. Me go a massa house, in massa yard, and in me hut, and me no 
see em !' and then her cry went up to God. I durst not be seen look- 
ing at her." 


Mr. Watson's pamphlet was extensively read by members of parlia- 
ment, and other public men. Mr. Wilberforce expressed his approba- 
tion of it in strong terms. It silenced Mr. Manyat ; and from the 
time of its publication the conduct of that gentleman toward the Method- 
ist members of the house of commons was courteous and respectful. — 
The work appeared in the spring of 1817, and, in the course of the 
following summer, procured for the author many votes of thanks from 
missionary meetings in different parts of the country. 

This publication had a far more important bearing than the author 
and his friends anticipated. Up to that period the missionaries, intent 
only upon promoting the spiritual interests of the negroes, had done 
little to show the people of England the real character of West Indian 
slavery. They had rather concealed the miseries of the slave, than 
declared his true condition ; for they were afraid of disobliging the 
planters, and of being denied all access to the objects of their charge. 
The attacks upon the missionaries,- however, extorted from them dis- 
closures concerning the brutal ignorance of the negro, and the state of 
oppression under which he groaned; and these disclosures were not 
without their' effect upon the religious part of the community. Mr. 
Watson's pamphlet, which was wrung from him by the violence of the 
West Indian body, in a great degree prepared the public mind for 
that movement by which West Indian slavery has been abolished. — 
Thus does the Almighty, in the wise and beneficent arrangements of his 
Providence, cause even " the wrath of man to praise him." 

On Wednesday, May 7th, he was requested to take a part in the 
annual meeting of the British and Foreign Bible Society, which was 
held in Freemason's hall. As a zealous friend of missions and of man- 
kind, the interests of this society lay near his heart, and its successes 
afforded him the liveliest gratification. At that time the circulation of 
the Holy Scriptures in the immense Russian empire was encouraged 
by the emperor ; and the results were likely to be beneficial in the 
highest degree. Upon these subjects he expatiated with a glow of 
grateful feeling, and with his usual felicity of expression. Unhappily, 
the sanction then given to the Bible society in Russia was subsequently 
withdrawn ; and that career of improvement which had been auspi- 
ciously begun was checked by the government, and the regeneration 
of its semi-barbarous subjects deferred to a more remote period. Mr. 
Watson's anticipations, therefore, have not yet been realized. He 
spoke to the following effect : — 

My Lord, — The report and the addresses which we have heard this 
day have turned our attention to the Russian empire ; and delightful 
are the views which are there presented to us. We cannot listen to 
such statements, without anticipating from the circulation of the Scrip- 
tures in the Greek Church, the revival of religion there in all its purity ; 
and whoever considers the geographical position of the Russian empire, 
its rising greatness, its political influence, and the character of its sove- 
reign, must contemplate such a revival of pure religion as the certain 
harbinger of the moral renovation of the world. To merely pagan 
countries we send both Bibles and missionaries ; but where Christian- 
ity exists, though in decay, the Bible may be sufficient. The circula- 
tion of the Scriptures alone may raise and restore the Greek Church. 


The frame of the temple still stands, and the Bible will rekindle the 
fire upon its altars. An order of Christian ministers exists, though 
many of them are comparatively dead ; but, like the witnesses in the 
Apocalypse, when the Spirit of truth shall enter into them, if they shall 
stand upon their feet and prophesy." 

The circulation of the Scriptures in the Latin Church produced our 
own glorious reformation, and gave us Protestantism, with all its bless- 
ings. And we may look forward to the same results in the Greek 
Church, with this interesting difference, that the opposition made to 
the circulation of the Scriptures in the Latin Church produced an angry 
schism ; but, encouraged as Bible societies are in the Greek Church, 
the free diffusion of Divine truth will re-animate the body, and yet, 
probably, preserye ite unity. This, my lord, is a cheering considera- 
tion. Our reformation dawned upon us with lurid glare ; all our Pro- 
testant Churches had their birth amidst the convulsions of political 
elements, and their cradle was rocked by storms : but in Russia we 
have the prospect of change without convulsion, of the good without 
the evil ; its reformation approaches like a soft and beauteous sun rise, 
shedding rays equally welcome on the cottages of Siberia, and the 
palaces of the northern Cesar. What is doing in Russia, in comparison 
of the wants and population of that empire, is chiefly in preparation ; 
yet such notes of preparation fall delightfully on our ears : they are, 
like the first faint notes of the birds, wakened even by twilight into 
songs, preludes to the full harmony of nature, and the perfect light of 
day. One circumstance in the operation of the Bible society has 
appeared to me equally singular and encouraging,— the eager desire of 
the people in all places to possess those Scriptures which it is the 
object of the society to furnish, Has, then, the carnal mind ceased to 
be at enmity with God ? Have vice and ignorance laid aside their hos? 
tility to truth? We believe a time will arrive, when those reproving 
words of the evangelist will lose their application, " The light shineth 
in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not ;" a time when the 
darkness shall comprehend the light, and eagerly lay hold upon it. — 
Have we, then, the encouragement arising from the consideration, that 
we are approaching that period ? I think we have. When the light of 
the Gospel faded away from the minds of men in former ages, there 
was no such feeling as that to which I have referred ; none sighed at 
the approaches of night ; none laid hold on truth, as Jacob on the angel, 
saying, " I will not let thee go." The shadows of the evening were 
welcomed, and the angel was repulsed. I have no other way of ac- 
counting for this change, than by referring it to the special influence 
of God ; and this is one of the noblest proofs that the work of the Bible 
society is taken up into the plans of Providence : God is not only with 
us, but there is a sense in which he goes before us. Wherever this 
society directs its operations, his Spirit appears to precede it ; a holy 
influence is breathed upon the world, preparing it to receive those bless* 
ings which the sacred wprd alone pan communicate. This is a pledge 
of ultimate and universal success : it is the quickening freshness which 
goes before the morning ; the rising breeze, which indicates the der 
spending and universal shower. 

I will add but another remark ; and I make it because it has been 
made before, and because it derives its interest from being made often. 


Our Christian union still continues ; we are still one in this glorious 
work ; the dew of Hermon has not to us lost its refreshing quality ; the 
ointment poured on the head of Aaron still retains all its fragrance. — 
I follow with pleasure the respectable divine who has just addressed 
you. He is an American, with a truly British heart ; and he has fur- 
nished me with an American allusion, with reference to the principles 
of this society, which embraces Christianity of all names and all coun- 
tries. We have buried the hatchet of strife ; and may the moisture 
which nourishes the root of that tree under which we have laid it daily 
eat more deeply into its edge, and more completely destroy its temper. 
I know of but one malediction in the breast of charity ; and that is 
reserved for the man who shall dig the hatchet from the earth, and 
again give sharpness to its edge. 

The American divine, to whom he here refers, was the celebrated 
Dr. Mason, the secretary of the American Bible Society. 

While Mr. Watson stood forth as the able and unflinching advocate 
of the missions to the negroes, and mingled his thanksgivings and 
joyous anticipations with the other members of the Bible society, he 
was attentive to the more private duties of his secretaryship, and to all 
his pastoral engagements ; and at the same time was ready, as much 
as lay in his power, to assist at the anniversaries of missionary socie- 
ties, especially in the northern part of the kingdom, where he had for- 
merly laboured so usefully, and had many affectionate friends. It is 
indeed surprising that, with a delicate and sickly frame, he should have 
been able to go through so much labour both of body and mind. But 
he was diligent in the improvement of his time ; his heart was in his 
work ; he was engaged in a service upon which he saw that the bless- 
ing of God evidently rested ; his spirit was cheerful and sanguine ; and 
he possessed a facility in writing for the press, of which few persons 
who were not intimately acquainted with him could have an adequate 
conception. He had little time for study ; but strength proportioned to 
his day was given to him ; and his public ministry was exercised through 
his extensive circuit with a freshness and a power which excited general 
admiration. His " bow" did indeed '.' abide in strength ;" and his use- 
fulness was great in every department of his work. He attended the 
conference at Sheffield in July and August, 1817 ; and there he received 
from his brethren every mark of confidence, affection, and esteem. — 
The following resolution was unanimously adopted by the conference, 
and published in their minutes : — 

" That the warmest thanks of this body are eminently due to Mr. 
Watson, for his able and triumphant ' Defence of the Wesleyan Me- 
thodist Missions in the West Indies,' published during the past year, 
at the request of the missionary committee." 

At this conference it was found that the contributions toward the 
support of the Methodist missions were rapidly on the increase ; so that 
the call of Providence to enlarge the sphere of their foreign operations 
was loud and distinct ; and the cheerfulness with which those contri- 
butions were presented in all parts of the kingdom was such as to war- 
rant the expectation of a permanent increase in their funds. While 
several additional missionaries, therefore, were accepted, and appointed 
to labour in various parts of the heathen world, the conference resolved, 


" That suitable premises for a Methodist missionary house and office 
shall be immediately procured, in some central situation in London, 
affording sufficient accommodation for the orderly transaction of all our 
missionary business, and for a depdt of proper articles which are wanted 
in the outfit of missionaries." It was also felt that the plan upon which 
the Methodist missions were conducted was somewhat anomalous. A 
missionary society was formed in almost every district in the connec- 
tion ; but there was no general society, which could hold its annual 
meeting, and to which the proceedings of the executive committee 
could be regularly reported. The conference, therefore, directed the 
committee to arrange a plan for the formation of a " General Wesleyan 
Missionary Society," which should hold its anniversary in London about 
the month of May, and to which all the district societies should be con- 
sidered auxiliaries. The plan thus formed was to be laid before the 
conference of 1818 for its approval. 

Mr. Watson was returned a second year to the London east circuit ; 
and the Rev. Messrs. Joseph Entwisle, John Reynolds, sen., John 
Riles, and George Marsden, were his colleagues. He was also re- 
appointed to the office of missionary secretary, in connection with his 
friend Mr. Marsden. 

On his return from the conference he entered upon his work with re- 
newed ardour. He felt that he had the confidence of his brethren ; he 
was esteemed and beloved by the congregations to whom he ministered ; 
the missions were in a state of growing prosperity ; and at no period 
of his life did he render more important and valuable services to the 
cause of Christianity, and especially to the Methodist body, than during 
the present year. Not long after his return from the conference he was 
called to preach at the opening of the new chapel in Queen-street, 
near Lincoln's Inn Fields. Mr. Benson preached. in the morning, Mr. 
Newton in the afternoon, and Mr. Watson in the evening. The 
venerable man who took the lead in these services expressed in very 
strong terms his admiration of the sermons which were delivered by 
Messrs. Newton and Watson. The occasion was one of superior 
interest ; the chapel being the largest that the Methodists had erected 
in London since the year 1777, when that in the City-Road was built ; 
and it was more highly ornamented than any other place of worship 
then occupied by them in the metropolis. To these circumstances Mr. 
Watson alludes in the following letter, addressed 

To W C. Ellis, Esq., Surgeon, Hull. 

London, Oct. 1st, 1817. 

My Dear Sir, — I am sorry that the inquiries I have made among 
the few merchants with whom I have any acquaintance have presented 
nothing hopeful ; and I should have been very happy to be successful 
m the affair. But my connections of this or indeed of any kind, in 
London, are very limited. 

London still presents to my mind and feelings a contrast to the 
country ; not at all in its favour. We may, and I hope do, live for 
others here, but certainly not for ourselves ; if the intercourse of friends, 
the feeling of acquaintance, and the excitement of conversation, be 
personal advantages. However, it is the imperfection of this state to 


enjoy good only by occasional contrast ; and the follower of Christ ia 
" in all things, and every where to be instructed." 

There appears to have been hope in the death of — ; yet, ah ! 

who would be content to be saved " by the skin of his teeth V } It i}lus r 
Irates Divine mercy, but is far below either a generous or a pious 
wish. It fell below the always lofty conceptions of St. Peter, who 
speaks of an " entrance being ministered to us abundantly into the 
everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.'' 

Do you hesitate as to my opinion of St. Paul, as the greatest man 
that ever trod the theatre of this earth 1 Think of every character of 
moral greatness, and ask whether one be wanting in him. Recollect 
the degree in which he possessed them ; and mark how many he had 
which they have not who have so often been called great. Here is a 
subject for discussion by the fireside for ypu and Mrs. Ellis, in which 
I should be most happy to join. 

I am glad to hear that Hull feels the general impulse given to our 
national circulation. The patient revives without the aid either of the 
empirical skill of Major Cartwright, or the drugging of universal 
suffrage. With all this we have, it is true, rumours of great sickness 
in different places ; but that is no drawback in the consideration of 
the profession Esculapean. 

I have not heard a word from Methodistical Hull since the confer- 
ence. Will you give me the news? Be assured I shall never 
murmur at the postage, though the letter should be double. It will 
revive feelings not to be. weighed against the arithmetic of the post 

I have no official news, except that we are sending off about eigh- 
teen missionaries ; and that we opened the new Queen-street chapel 
on Thursday last. You cannot see it till you get within ; but then it 
throws even the chapel in Waltham-street into the shade. We are 
generally doing well in this circuit. Both societies and congregations 
are on the increase. 

Please present my affectionate remembrance to Mrs. Ellis, and to 
your son. Mrs. Watson unites with me in love to them, and to Mr. and 
Mrs. Garbutt, and family, and to all our old friends, who are not to be 
forgotten by us while we remember any thing. 

The missionary report for the year 1817, which it fell tp the lot of 
Mr. Watson to prepare for publication, and which appeared about the 
end of the year, was full of important intelligence. The contributions 
amounted to the noble sum of .£17,227. 8s'. 9hd. ; and a large addition 
was made to the number of missionaries. A few extracts from this 
interesting document will contain facts which ought not to be forgotten, 
and will serve to show the spirit and manner of the writer : — 

" One of the first labours which devolved upon the. committee was 
the sending put to their respective appointments the additional mis- 
sionaries appointed by the conference of 1816; and to this they advert 
with pleasure and gratitude. The prayers of the pious, who, affected 
by the dark and vicious condition of the world, had earnestly entreated 
the Lord of the harvest to send forth more labourers, were in this 
respect answered. 

." The accession of so great a number of qualified men enabled the 


committee to open several important new stations, and to reinforce the 
missions in other places, where the provision was inadequate to the 
exigence of the case, and where the calls of the people, desiring to 
' hear words by which they might be saved,' were the most pressing. Six 
additional missionaries were sent to Newfoundland ; three to Canada ; 
three to Nova-Scotia ; one to the Bahamas ; one to Jamaica ; four to Anti- 
gua, and other British islands in the West Indies ; two to St. Domingo ; 
one to Sierra-Leone ; and three to Ceylon ; making, in the whole, 
twenty-four missionaries appointed and sent out last year. 

" Of the persons who thus, at the call of the Church, have devoted 
themselves to the work of God in foreign parts, the committee state, 
with great satisfaction, that they appeared eminently qualified for the 
important work which was confided to them ; and that their talents, 
piety, prudence, and zeal, give encouraging promise of extensive use- 
fulness. Several of them had laboured in the work at home with great 
acceptance ; and the rest were strongly recommended by the quarterly 
and district meetings. In their examinations by the committee, their 
religious experience, their views of Christian doctrine and discipline, 
and the motives which led them to engage in the ministry, and parti- 
cularly to prefer the missionary field of labour, were in the highest 
sense satisfactory. They have been ' separated to the Gospel of God,' 
as 'men full of faith and of the Holy Ghost ;' and the committee com- 
mend them, with their fellow missionaries, to the special prayers of 
all who love the name and cause of our Lord Jesus Christ." 

After describing in detail the state of the various missions under the 
direction of the conference, the report concludes in the following 
beautiful and impressive strain : — " The committee cannot close this 
brief view of the present state of the missions confided to their manage- 
ment, without congratulating the friends who have so liberally subscribed 
to their support upon their prosperity ; and calling upon them to unite 
in acknowledging in their preservation, success, and extending influ- 
ence, the hand of Him whose counsels alone can efficaciously direct 
such a work, and whose blessing alone can make it prosper. In every 
station to which the committee have adverted, indications of advance- 
ment and progress present themselves ; and equally demand a tribute of 
devout gratitude for the past, and afford the cheering stimulus of hope 
for the future. In the West Indies, our oldest mission — a mission 
equally interesting to humanity and to piety — is with every year be- 
coming more commensurate to the wants of the black and coloured 
population ; the wilds of our American colonies are more deeply 
penetrated, and the worship of God established where his name and 
Sabbath had been too generally forgotten ; the outcasts of New South 
Wales hear the voice of praise around their dwellings ; Methodist 
missionaries have planted themselves by the side of those excellent 
men who are giving Christianity, with all its blessings, to the pagans 
of Southern and Western Africa, not as rivals of their work, but 
as helpers of their joy ; and the elements of a system of Christian 
instruction, and an efficacious ministry, are prepared for the fallen 
Christians and atheistical pagans of Ceylon, which are gradually com- 
ing into more efficient combination, and more energetic results. To 
so extensive a missionary system the committee are confident the 
friends of religion will not become indifferent. Hitherto they have 


aided it by their prayers, by their approbation and support ; and they 
will scarcely need to be reminded, that the enlarged exertions which 
have been made under the influence of that spirit of missionary zeal, 
which they have both shared with and reflected back upon each other 
with increased power, will demand the persevering application of their 
counsel, influence, and effort. Increased vigour has been infused into 
the old-established missions ; but as to many of the stations, the work 
is in its infancy. The verdure only begins to gladden the surrounding 
desert with incipient life, and the light to break through the darkness. 
To them the work, begun under auspices so encouraging, must be, from 
time to time, solemnly committed ; until the full fruit of their sacrifices, 
prayers, and efforts shall be reaped in the permanent and triumphant 
establishment of the kingdom of Christ in regions where his name is 
not known, or known only to be degraded by the wretched fiction of a 
nominal Christianity. 

" The committee noticed in the' last report the enlarged concern for 
the state of the heathen, and the renewed ardour for the enlargement 
of the kingdom of Messiah, which had been produced in different parts 
of the nation, by the operation of missionary societies, and the public 
services and proceedings connected with their formation or anniver- 
saries ; and the experience of another year has afforded additional 
proofs of the efficient operation of these institutions, in not only in- 
creasing the funds, by which the work has been greatly extended, but 
also in producing or deepening those principles of religious charity 
and pious action which so justly accord with the designation of the 
Christian as ' the light of the world,' and afford the best pledge of 
steady and persevering exertion in the loftiest and best of causes. Un- 
der the example of those places which were ' forward in this work,' 
new missionary societies have been commenced in several important 
towns and districts ; and local associations and branch societies have 
been extended into the neighbourhood of those places where they had 
been previously formed ; and whose exertions, so far from having 
abated, appear to receive new impulse from every statement with which 
they are furnished of the pressing calls of the heathen, and the increas- 
ing demands upon the missionary fund. 

" In addition to the missionary societies at home the committee have 
the pleasure to report, that this plan of raising supplies for the work 
has been adopted in some of the mission stations abroad, and with the 
promise of considerable success. A society, entitled, ' The Bahama 
Methodist Missionary Society,' was formed in New-Providence in the 
course of last spring ; which was followed by ( The Methodist Mission* 
ary Society for the District of Nova-Scotia,' including New-Brunsr 
wick, and Prince Edward's Island, which was formed at Halifax, June 
3d. A similar society has also been formed at Demerara ; the sub- 
scriptions to which are expected to amount, at the end of the year, to 
£100 sterling. The committee have recommended the attempt in other 
foreign stations, and doubt not of its success. The subscriptions of 
the societies already formed will appear in the next report, and will 
exhibit a pleasing proof that they who have been so greatly in- 
debted to Christian benevolence are willing to exercise it toward 
others ; and that the remembrance of their own destitute condition has 
led them to pity those who are yet ' without God and without hope ;' 


or, as the sentiment was affectingly expressed by a female slave, when 
bringing her contribution to the Demerara Missionary Society, ' We 
ought, of all persons, to help our poor fellow creatures. Once we had 
not the Gospel ; but the people of England have sent it to us ; and we 
ought to help in sending it all over the world.' 

" The committee having made these statements, now beg leave, 
with an earnestness for which the importance and pressing nature of 
the cause of missions will be a sufficient apology, to urge upon the 
society and its friends the necessity not only of constancy, but of in- 
creased activity, in a work so eminently and immediately ' the work 
of the Lord.' They acknowledge, with joy and gratitude, the sums 
above stated, as highly creditable to the pious zeal and benevolence 
of so many district societies, and to the activity of their committees, 
their secretaries, and collectors. They acknowledge, with the live- 
liest feelings, the subscriptions and donations of many persons of other 
religious denominations, whose love to the common cause of Chris- 
tianity is the only motive which could influence their co-operation and 
assistance. They wish to pay a just tribute to the unwearied exer- 
tions of those ladies who, in various places, have successfully pleaded 
the cause of the heathen, and largely aided the mission fund ; and they 
hail with joy the formation of several juvenile societies, as their coad- 
jutors in the work of Christ ; and see, in the spirit with which the 
missionary cause has animated them, an encouraging pledge of the 
permanency of those plans which have been devised for providing 
those resources without which missionaries to the heathen cannot be 
sent. The missionary spirit thus excited, bound up with early asso- 
ciations, and connected with the ardent feelings of youth, will give its 
character to the man, and animate the efforts of future life in the cause 
of God. But with all these causes of gratulation, the committee con- 
ceive that, there are places in the connection where the plans of the 
society might be carried into farther operation, and the subscriptions 
greatly enlarged ; and in such places, and on persons residing in 
them, by whose influence and activity only the measure can be pro- 
moted, the committee would commend the subject to serious attention. 
Every consideration that can excite a mind which loves Christ, which 
burns with 

« A jealous, just concern 
For his immortal praise,' 

is furnished both by the state of the world, by the state of missions in 
general, and the Methodist missions in particular, to induce those 
who have actively engaged in the cause already, to persevere, and 
fully to win over to their help those whose aid has hitherto been but 
partial and occasional. The prosperous or hopeful state of almost 
every mission which has been attempted, — the abundant opportunities 
of extending the work in various directions, — the premature deaths 
of missionaries, martyrs in' the cause of benevolence and piety, — 
the new stations in the West India Islands, which cannot be filled 
up and maintained without enlarged supplies, — the important call to 
minister to the wants of the four millions of pagans in the island of 
Madagascar, — the necessity of sending another missionary to cheer 
the solitude and aid the labours of Mr. Barnabas Shaw, now alone 
among the savages of South Africa,— and, finally, the important mis- 


sion in Ceylon, where we are specially called to re-erect the temples 
of Christ, now in ruins through the neglect of Christians,-*^) arrest 
the progress of paganism and Mohammedanism, now almost triumphant 
over the feeble remains of Christianity, — to re-assert the honours and 
victories of the cross, and convey the knowledge of God and salvation 
through an island, the essential principle of whose religion is to deny 
God, and the almost universal practice to worship devils : these are 
the considerations which the committee wish to leave on the minds of 
the public ; and to lay this great cause before them, and before that 
Saviour whose glory it aims to make known, and to the enlargement 
of whose kingdom it is its office to administer. ' Blessed be his 
glorious name for ever : and let the whole earth be filled with his 
glory. Amen !' " 

In the month of February, 1818, Mr. Watson preached at the 
opening of the new chapel in Oxford, a city which he always delighted 
to visit. The ancient and venerable appearance of its public build- 
ings, sacred to learning, and the personal examples of virtue and pro- 
found scholarship connected with them in his recollection^, all tended- 
to awaken in his heart the most pleasurable emotions. Here many 
of those master spirits were disciplined, by whose writings his own 
studies had been directed, and his mind trained to wisdom and piety. 
He used even to admire the dresses of that learned body, and took a 
lively interest in all the particulars of college life. No man was bet- 
ter qualified than he to estimate the benefits of sound learping, par- 
ticularly in connection with theology ; and no man was ever more 
sincerely attached to the institutions of the country, especially those 
of them which bear upon its literature, religion, science, and legislation. 

That great revival of religion which has taken place in modern 
times, and which has been denominated Methodism, originated in Ox- 
ford. Here the persons composing what was called the Godly Club 
used to meet together for pious conversation, to visit the sick and the 
prisoners ; and here the two Wesleys delivered their powerful and 
awakening sermons, in an age of lukewarmness and formality, regard- 
less of the jibes of profane witlings, and of the contempt of grave 
men. After struggling with great difficulties for many years, the Wes- 
leyan Methodists in Oxford succeeded in the erection of a chapel, re- 
markable for its neatness, and in a convenient situation. It was the 
third that they had occupied ; and was opened on Thursday, Feb. 9th, 
when Dr. Adam Clarke preached in the morning, Mr. Watson -in the 
afternoon, and Mr. Bunting in the evening. On the following Sunday, 
Mr. Benson preached in the morning and evening, and Mr. Jenkins in 
the afternoon. The collections made at the different services amount- 
ed to upward of j£200. The undergraduates of the university were 
duly warned, in their several colleges, not to attend any of these ser- 
vices ; and while Mr. Bunting was preaching in the evening, the proc- 
tor, whose office it is to find out delinquents, and bring them to justice, 
apprehensive that some member of that learned body might have strayed 
into this unhallowed place, walked with an air of authority into the 
chapel ; took his stand in one of the aisles ; deliberately surveyed the 
congregation ; and not observing any person there who was under his 
jurisdiction, retired, and left the preacher to finish his discourse, tp the 
edification of his hearers. 


An event Occurred in connection with the opening of this chapel of 
a somewhat amusing kind ; and as it is calculated to teach an impor- 
tant practical lesson to those who are often thrown into the company 
of strangers) it may be worth while to relate it. When Dr. Clarke 
was on his way to Oxford, attended by two or three friends, who were 
accompanying him, they met with a lady in the road, who called to the 
coachman, and inquired if he could take her to Oxford. As there was 
a vacant place in the coach, she took possession of it, and thus joined 
the doctor and his party. Not suspecting who they were, she inform- 
ed them that she was on her way to Oxford, to attend the religious ser- 
vices connected with the opening of a Methodist chapel in that city ; 
that she was not a Methodist herself; but had heard a favourable ac- 
count of the ministers who were to officiate, and had determined to 
hear and judge for herself, respecting a people whose tenets and 
practices excited so much attention in the world. The company suf- 
fered the lady to remain in ignorance as to who her fellow travellers 
were ; and she, with all possible frankness, related to them what she 
had heard concerning the character and talents of the men whose 
ministry she was going to attend ; stating particularly, that she under- 
stood Dr. Clarke to be a very learned man, but a plain preacher. She 
perceived the company to be somewhat amused by her remarks ; and, 
supposing that they were inclined to treat Methodist preaching with 
levity, pressed them to attend the services which were the object of 
her journey ; at the same time expressing a hope that even they might 
hear something at the chapel which at least would do them no harm. 
On the following morning, while sitting in the chapel, waiting for the 
commencement of the service, she recognized the doctor's friends in 
an adjoining pew ; and, giving them a nod and a smile, was pleased to 
think that they had accepted her invitation. At length the doctor came 
out of the vestry, and ascended the pulpit ; — the very man whose cha- 
racter she had unknowingly described and criticised in his presence 
on the preceding day ! Her feelings of surprise and mortification may 
be more easily conceived than expressed ; and when the service was 
ended, she complained bitterly to the doctor and his friends, for having 
suffered her to place herself in so awkward a position. The doctor 
spoke to her with his characteristic benevolence and generosity, so as 
to remove from her mind every uneasy feeling ; and before he left 
Oxford, he addressed a letter to her, giving her information on some 
doctrinal topics, concerning which she was making anxious inquiries. 
In the meanwhile the case transpired, and was whispered in different 
directions ; and as the tale was new, and seemed too good to be sup- 
pressed, every one that knew it was prompt in communicating it to his 
neighbour. Mr. Watson was made acquainted with the particulars, 
and in the course of the day related the whole to a large party, uncon- 
scious that the lady was in the room, and was writhing under his play- 
ful description of her unfortunate adventure ; thus, in fact, putting 
himself in the very situation which excited his amusement. 



Mr. Watson's Pamphlet on the Eternal Sonship of Christ — Extracts on the 
Use of Reason in Religion — Mr. Robert Hall's Opinion of Mr. Watson's Pam. 
phlet — Unkind Reply to it — Consequences of Dr. Clarke's Theory — Resolution 
of Conference in regard to the Doctrine of the Eternal Sonship of Christ — Plan 
of the General Wesleyan Missionary Society — Arrival of two Priests of Budhoo 
from India — Letter to Mr. Walton — Conference of 1818 — Formation of the Gene, 
ral Chapel Fund — Mr. Watson's removal to the London West Circuit — Preaches 
before the Sunday School Union — Extracts from his Sermon — Attends an Ordi. 
nation of Missionaries at Bristol. 

Early in the year 1818 Mr. Watson published one of his most im- 
portant theological works : an elaborate dissertation on the Divine and 
eternal Sonship of Christ, and on the use of reason in matters of reve- 
lation. As a preacher he had attained the highest rank in the public 
estimation ; the single sermons and the missionary reports which he 
had published showed to great advantage his abilities in that species 
of composition which combines argumentation with rhetorical embel- 
lishment ; and his answer to Mr. Roscoe, and Defence of the Wesleyau 
Missions, demonstrated that his powers in political disquisition and 
general controversy were of no common order : but he was yet com- 
paratively unknown as a divine ; and in what manner he could grapple 
with the more profound questions in theology was yet to be determined. 
An opportunity now offered ; the occasion was momentous ; and the 
call of duty appeared to be obvious and urgent. Dr. Adam Clarke's 
very elaborate Commentary on the Holy Scriptures was then in a course 
of publication ; and was read very extensively, and with great avidity, 
especially in the Methodist connection, of which the author had long 
been a distinguished ornament. In this work the doctor strenuously 
contends for the true and proper Divinity of Jesus Christ ; but at the 
same time maintains that he is the Son of God merely in regard to his 
human nature ; and that he is so denominated because of the manner 
in which that nature was produced in the womb of his virgin mother. 
This opinion was not new ; though it does not appear that Dr. Clarke 
had adopted it from any other writer. It was, however, at variance 
with the tenets of Mr. Wesley and of the Methodist body ; and was 
clearly opposed to almost every orthodox confession of faith,- and to the 
general sense of the Christian Church in every age. The learned com- 
mentator does not oppose the doctrine generally held, because in his 
judgment it contradicts the plain and obvious meaning of Holy Scrip- 
ture ; but because he could not reconcile it with his philosophy : and 
hence the argument upon which he rests his cause, and which is con- 
tained in his note on Luke i, 35, is deduced entirely from human ana- 
logies. Having enumerated, at the conclusion of his work, the leading 
principles which he believed and advocated, he says, " The doctrine 
which cannot stand the test of rational investigation cannot be true. — 
The doctrines or principles already enumerated have stood this test ; 
and those which shrink from such a test are not doctrines of Divine 
revelation. We have gone too far when we have said, such and such 
doctrines should not be subjected to rational investigation, being doc- 
trines of pure revelation. I know no such doctrine in the Bible. The 
doctrines of this book are doctrines of eternal reason ; and they are 


revealed because they are such. Human reason could not have found 
them out ; but, when revealed, reason can both apprehend and compre- 
hend them." 

Against these principles Mr. Watson felt it his duty to raise the 
warning voice. He thought that, however innoxious they might be in 
the mind of Dr. Clarke, a man of established piety and orthodoxy, their 
influence upon young persons of limited reading, of speculative habits, 
and superficial religious experience, would be very injurious. At the 
same time, to oppose Dr. Clarke was painful and hazardous. The 
doctor was venerable for his years and learning ; he was one of the 
fathers of the connection to which he belonged ; the deference paid to 
his opinions in many quarters was profound ; his peculiar views were 
somewhat extensively entertained, and any thing published in opposi- 
tion to them was likely to raise a considerable clamour. Mr. Watson 
was by far Dr. Clarke's junior ; he had once left the connection, and 
had but recently returned ; and although he had given indications of 
great powers, and had rendered important services to the Wesleyan 
body, yet at that time his character did not stand so high in the public 
estimation as that of the eminent man with whom he was about to enter 
the lists. Under all these disadvantages, and with these discourage- 
ments before him, he committed to the press a large pamphlet entitled, 
" Remarks on the Eternal Sonship of Christ ; and the Use of Reason 
in Matters of Revelation : suggested by several passages in Dr. Adam 
Clarke's Commentary on the New Testament. In a Letter to a 

The " friend " to whom this letter was originally addressed was the 
Rev. Thomas Galland, M. A., of Queen's college, Cambridge, then 
recently admitted into the Wesleyan itinerancy. The passages in the 
doctor's commentary just referred to had engaged the attention of this 
excellent man, who was startled by their boldness and peculiarity ; and 
he solicited Mr. Watson's help in solving the difficulties which were 
presented to his mind. In answer to his inquiries, Mr. Watson says, 
" You request my opinion on those passages of Dr. Clarke's Commen- 
tary, in which he has rejected a doctrine received in all ages, and by 
every Church reputed orthodox, — the eternal filiation of the second 
person of the holy trinity ; and also on those principles which he has 
laid down in support of his own views ; views not new, but which have 
of late been almost peculiar to those who entirely reject the essential 
Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 

" I should have been very unwilling to be the first to excite a con- 
troversy on these subjects. Had the notions in question passed off, as 
certain peculiarities of opinion in Dr. Clarke's Commentary have done, 
— noticed only for the moment, and now almost forgotten, — I would not 
have recalled to them the attention of his readers, better employed, I 
hope, on the many excellent illustrations of Scripture which his work 
contains. But from their notorious opposition to the sentiments most 
commonly received among Christians, and in that religious body to 
which Dr. Clarke belongs, they have been the subject of'much and 
serious discussion : they have made some converts, and have mooted 
subjects Which have never been put into discussion in any Church with- 
out considerable mischief. This was the case before any reply was 
made to them. Since then a written controversy has commenced ; and 


my reasons for engaging in it may be briefly stated. I consider it a 
very serious one. I think a clearly revealed truth has been given up 
by Dr. Clarke ; and that he has defended his opinions by arguments, 
and on principles, which, however innocently held by himself, as to 
their practical influence upon his own thinkings on religious subjects, 
are very capable of being turned against, doctrines which he reveres in 
common with all orthodox Christians. I would, however, premise, 

" 1. That I approach the subject merely as a matter of theological 
inquiry. The notes objected to are before the world ; they are pro- 
posed, as other writings, to the judgments of men, and lie open to 
remark and criticism. 

" 2. That I have no feeling but that of respect toward Dr. Clarke. 
My personal acquaintance with him is but slight ; and what I know of 
him by his writings has impressed me with a high sense of his talents 
and virtues. 

" 3. That I have not taken up the subject under the idea that the 
learned annotator does not most firmly believe in the essential Divinity 
of Christ. Of this doctrine his notes afford ample proof; and in sup- 
port of it they contain masterly and irrefragable arguments : and I am 
farther persuaded that at the time he wrote those passages, in which 
he restricts the application of the term Son of God, as it occurs in the 
New Testament as an appellation of Christ, to his human nature, he 
conscientiously believed that he was removing an objection to the 
doctrine of our Lord's Divinity : and, 

" 4. That, though I shall have occasion to remark that he has, in 
some instances, adopted Arian and Socinian rules of interpreting Scrip- 
ture, and, as I conceive, very dangerously, I strongly protest against 
this being construed into an insinuation that I associate Dr. Clarke 
with the theologians of either class : at the same time, honesty obliges 
me to confess, that though the doctor's great qualities may keep him 
secure upon those premises which on some subjects he has assumed, 
yet they appear to me to have produced contradiction and inconsistency 
in his comments. It is seriously to be apprehended, that many of his 
readers will be greatly bewildered by them in their religious opinions ; 
and that their direct tendency is to lead to errors which Dr. Clarke 
himself would be the first to condemn. 

" These particulars being premised, I hope that it will appear to you 
and to others, that I enter upon the discussion with that respect for Dr. 
Clarke which his learning and talents demand ; and that it is quite con- 
sistent with this respect, to feel that we owe, more than to any man, a 
deference to truth. The one is propriety ; the other is imperative duty." 

After these preliminary observations Mr. Watson enters upon his 
subject, stating, "The presens inquiry respects, first; the eternal Son- 
ship of Christ, which Dr. Clarke denies ; secondly, the principles by 
which he has corroborated his negation of that doctrine." 

In the former part of his work Mr. Watson shows that the title Son 
of God is applied to our Lord throughout the New Testament, not with 
an exclusive reference to his miraculous conception, but as the appro- 
priate designation of a Divine person. It does not, indeed, appeal 1 that 
the fact of the miraculous conception was known beyond the limits of 
the holy family till after our Lord was raised from the dead. John the 
Baptist was raised by a special providence as the forerunner of our 


Lord ; he declared him to be the Son of God ; and his powerful ministry 
was felt in the length and breadth of Judea ; yet he left the people 
ignorant of this fact ; for when Jesus entered upon his ministry it was 
the current opinion that he was " the son of Joseph." The evangelists 
introduce many persons who acknowledged Jesus to be the Son of God ; 
but no intimation is given that they applied to him this title with any 
reference to the manner in which his human nature was produced. — 
The title was understood by the Jews especially to imply an equality 
with the Father ; and when they charged him with blasphemy, and 
clamoured for his crucifixion, because he said he was the Son of God, 
and that God was his Father, — thus, according to their apprehensions, 
"making himself equal with God," — he gave no intimation that they 
were in error in affixing this meaning to the terms which he used. 
Having adduced many passages of .Scripture, and shown their bearing 
upon the argument, Mr. Watson contends that, whatever may be the 
deductions of philosophy, the legitimate inference to be drawn from the 
inspired records is, that the second person of the Godhead stands in a 
filial relation to the first, independently of all reference to his incarna- 
tion. To use the beautiful language of the Nicene Creed, he is " the 
only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, 
God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, 
being of one substance with the Father." As to the manner of the 
Son's generation, Mr. Watson wisely forbears all attempts at explana- 
tion. The Holy Scriptures are silent on the subject ; and all analogies 
derived from created nature must for ever fail to convey adequate ideas 
of the mode of the Divine existence. It was sufficient for him to rest 
in the fact, as revealed by God himself ; waiting till his arrival in the 
world of spirits for those farther discoveries which the Almighty, in the 
plenitude of his wisdom and love, may see good to make. The oppo- 
site theory, he perceived, when pushed to its consequences, must either 
lead to an acknowledgment of three co-ordinate Deities, or to a denial 
of all personal distinction in the Godhead. 

Strong and decisive as is Mr. Watson's reasoning on the eternal 
Sonship of Christ, the second part of his pamphlet, in which he endea- 
vours to ascertain the use of reason in matters of revelation, is still more 
valuable and important ; as it not only detects the origin of the contrary 
opinion, but of nearly all the doctrinal errors that have bewildered the 
minds of men, and afflicted the Church of God. The principles laid 
down by the author are defended and illustrated with great eloquence 
and force of argument. They display no ordinary soundness and vigour 
of intellect, and cannot be too widely disseminated. 

" The conclusion of these observations on the office of reason in 
religion," says Mr. Watson, " may be thus summed up : the office of 
reason is, to judge of the evidence of the record professing to be a 
revelation from God. When we are satisfied of the Divine authority 
of Scripture, our understanding is to be employed humbly, and with 
dependence upon God, in ascertaining its sense : and whatever doctrine 
is there stated, or necessarily implied by the harmony of its different 
parts, is to be admitted, believed, and held fast, whether it corroborate 
or contradict the notions which our previous or collateral reasonings 
have led us to adopt. 

" I know that there is nothing here so dazzling as in the principles 
Vol. I. 12 


on which I have animadverted. It is more nattering to the human mind 
to be accounted a judge, than to be reduced to the rank of a scholar ; 
to be placed in a condition to summon Divine wisdom to its bar, and 
oblige it to give an account of the reasons of its decisions, than to 
receive them upon authority ; but this is the safe, because the humble, 
path : and I greatly mistake, if it be not also the true way to high 
illumination in the things of God. It is to the patient, prayerful study 
of Divine truth, by its own light, that its harmonies, and connections, 
and beauties most freely reveal themselves ; as the bud discloses to 
the solar light the graces it refuses to the hand of violence. 

" I am not unaware that the learned commentator on whom I have 
so freely remarked will, at least partially, demur to the view I have 
given of the principles he has laid down in the conclusion of his valua- 
ble work. I have drawn them out to a length to which he probably did 
not mean them to extend. This I am anxious to believe ; but my 
business is with what he has said, and not with what he might intend : 
for it is by what he has said that his opinions will influence and direct 
others in their religious inquiries. The principles have been taken in 
their true logical sense, and in the meaning of the terms in which they 
are expressed, as those terms are and must be understood in the con- 
ventional language of mankind. There are great errors, in my vieAV, 
in the principles themselves, after every explanation which can accord 
with the meaning of language has been given ; but there are still greater, 
arising out of the loose and even contradictory manner in which they 
are expressed. If followed out as they stand in the commentary, they 
would inevitably lead to the greatest errors ; and if by some subtlety 
Dr. Clarke can himself accommodate them to correct views on religious 
subjects, he ought certainly to have remembered that his readers have 
not generally that adroitness. If he can poise himself in walking the 
bridge he has thrown over the gulfs of error, — a bridge narrowed to 
greater sharpness than that which Mohammed is said to have laid for the 
transit of the faithful from earth to heaven, — he would have done well 
to consider how many, less experienced than himself, would also venture 
upon it, and be probably plunged into a gulf of too hopeless a depth to 
admit return. This is a serious consideration, which he has too much 
regard for the truths he holds sacred, and too much love to the souls of 
men, not to be impressed with. He has authority ; but that imposes 
the obligation of severe caution upon the writer who possesses it ; and 
I do hope, though what I can say on the subject cannot be supposed 
to have great weight with him, that when he reflects upon the number 
of his readers, and the extent of influence which his commentary pos- 
sesses ; that the opinions of so many of our young people will be formed 
upon it, and that it is in the nature of man to overlook the good princi- 
ples in such a work, and to fix chiefly on those which are exceptiona- 
ble ; and especially that the turn of thinking among the young men who 
are introduced into the ministry, in that body of which he is so distin- 
guished an ornament, will probably be greatly determined by their 
constant recourse to his Biblical labours ; that he will feel greatly 
anxious to remove from a work which will carry down his name to 
posterity with honour, any principle which, however innocently held 
by himself, can by probable construction lead to Arian and Socinian 
errors, and smooth the path to 


■ That deep Serbonian bog 

Where armies whole have sunk.' 

This remark I apply chiefly to the concluding observations on the 
subject of reason ; a page which, if not entirely cancelled, can only be 
rendered harmless by being partially expunged. Surely it must be one 
of the noblest objects of the ambition of the author of a work of so much 
authority and influence, that it should not contain an injurious princi- 
ple, not even a line 

' Which dying he would wish to blot.' " 

Having examined Dr. Clarke's analogical argument, and shown that 
it is irrelevant to the subject to which it is applied, inasmuch as there 
can be no proportion between a human being and the infinite and ever- 
lasting God ; and that the first person in the adorable trinity may be 
a Father, without priority of being, and that Christians may still, in the 
sense in which the words have been commonly understood, join toge- 
ther in public worship, and say, " Thou art the everlasting Son of the 
Father ;" — Mr. Watson adds, with a felicity of thought and expression 
almost peculiar to himself, and with a devotional feeling which every 
pious mind will appreciate, " But a truce to these reasonings ! I wil- 
lingly give them all up for a single word of the testimony of God. I 
affect them not. They seem to bring me too irreverently near to 
God. I would not ' break through and gaze ;' and I feel, while I 
write, how just and yet how reproving are the words of the poet of 
paradise : — 

* Dark with excessive bright his skirts appear, 
Yet dazzle heaven ; that brightest seraphim 
Approach not ; but with both wings veil their eyes.' " 

The following paragraph forms the conclusion of this most impor- 
tant publication: — " It has been urged by some, as a reason for adopt- 
ing Dr. Clarke's views on the Sonship of Christ, that they remove a 
difficulty from the doctrine of the trinity This is indeed their most 
delusive aspect ; and the more may cursory readers be influenced by 
the fallacy, as they feel that the Deity of Christ is an essential doc- 
trine of Christianity. But does the difficulty from which they think 
themselves relieved press upon their faith, or upon their reason ? If 
upon the former, a moral defect is to be suspected ; for whoever feels 
it difficult to admit the testimony of God in his word, is not brought 
under the full moral influence of the Gospel. The question still 
recurs, Is the eternal Sonship of Christ a doctrine of Scripture ? — 
If it be rejected because the Bible is silent on the subject, the pro- 
ceeding is legitimate ; if, because it is a difficulty, and the depositions 
of Scripture are to be disregarded, that the difficulty may not press, the 
ground is changed ; and we have laid down the principle, that we will 
believe no difficult doctrine, though the Scriptures declare it. On 
such a basis no Christian system can possibly stand. It is a pyramid 
on its point, nodding to its fall. But if a difficulty be removed from 
our reason, our joy in the discovery ought not to be suffered to take its 
excursions of airy delight, until we first interrogate ourselves, whether 
the doctrine be one which can in its nature be tested by reason ; whe- 
ther, in this process, we have proceeded on authority. Sober theolo- 


gians would also inquire, whether by freeing ourselves from one 
difficulty we do not entangle ourselves in many others ; whether we 
shall not find, on the newly-adopted scheme, additional difficulty in 
establishing the personalities in the Godhead ; whether we shall not 
find it, not merely more difficult, but even impossible, to make out any 
meaning of half the passages in the sacred volume which speak of 
Christ as the Son of God, except by those lax and paraphrastic inter- 
pretations which Ave so justly protest against in those whose heresies 
we condemn, and which yield a meaning much below our present faith. 
This would be to purchase a relief from difficulty at much too dear a 
price ; but in itself, and separate from consequences, the relief is worth 
nothing. It is, to my mind, at least, a very strong argument, a priori, 
against any scheme, that it renders a doctrine of pure revelation less 
difficult to reason. I am inclined to say of it, as Chillingworth of 
novelties, ' What is newin divinity is false.' All such doctrines, as to 
human reason, whether they are contrary to it, or transcend it, are in 
their nature difficult, and difficult because they are true ; and (startling 
as it may appear to those who pay so much homage to the efficiency 
of their reason) difficult in proportion as they are revealed. ' God 
manifest,' revealed, ' in the flesh' constitutes the ' great mystery of 
godliness.' The pretence of relieving the difficulties of such subjects 
has, in all ages of the Church, smoothed the path to error. Arianism 
came in with this promise ; Socinianism gave farther relief to rational 
difficulties ; deism cut the knot, and spurned the fragments. ' To 
the law,' then, ' and to the testimony.' The outer court is yet our 
place ; the veil of the holiest is not yet drawn aside, except to faith ; 
and the great virtue of divines, like that of writers, is to know where 
to stop." 

The publication of this pamphlet stamped the character of Mr. Wat- 
son as an able divine and a profound thinker. Nothing that he had 
ever published made so deep an impression. The work was exten- 
sively read ; a second edition was called for in the course of a 
few weeks ; and both the subjects of discussion, and the manner in 
which they were treated, excited general attention in the Wesleyan 
body. The greater part of his brethren in the ministry felt themselves 
deeply indebted to him for so effectual a defence of their long-esta- 
blished doctrines ; and not a few of them presented to him their cordial 
thanks for his services. Some other persons, however, less candid, 
attributed his work to unworthy motives ; and charged the author with 
envying the honest fame which Dr. Clarke had so justly acquired by 
his talents and learning, and a desire to lower his public reputation. — 
Whereas, nothing could be more unjust. Few men have possessed a 
mind more generous, and more free from the base passion which 
" pines and sickens at another's joy," than Mr. Watson ; and the entire 
course of his life should have sheltered him from the odious imputation. 
No suspicion of this kind was ever hinted by any man who knew his 
character. That Mr. Watson had serious objections to those parts of 
the doctor's work upon which he has animadverted, is undeniable ; but 
he speaks of the doctor and his writings in general in terms of cordial 
respect. Not many weeks before his death he remarked to the writer 
of this narrative, in one of their free and confidential interviews, that 
his admiration of the devotional parts of the doctor's commentary con- 


tinued to increase ; and that he thought them the finest compositions 
of the kind he had ever read. Nor was the doctor unwilling to honour 
Mr. Watson's abilities. Not long after the appearance of Mr. Wat- 
son's pamphlet on the Sonship of Christ, when Mr. Southey's " Life 
of Wesley" was published, and called for animadversion. Dr. Clarke 
stood up in the conference, and declared it as his opinion that Mr. 
Watson was the fittest man to undertake that responsible task. 

In consequenoe of their collision of sentiment on the questions just 
referred to, there were persons in different parts of the kingdom, who 
to the end of their lives would consider Dr. Clarke and Mr. Watson as 
rivals of each other ; and injurious comparisons were often instituted 
between them. But the men were so perfectly dissimilar, both in 
their habits and mental constitution, that the very attempt at compari- 
son was absurd. Each of them had his " proper gift from God, one 
after this manner, and the other after that." Dr. Clarke was blessed 
with a sound and vigorous constitution, and was spared to a good old 
age. To a mind of no common energy, he added a resolution and a 
perseverance in the prosecution of his studies which no difficulties and 
discouragements could daunt ; and perhaps the entire history of human 
nature does not present a more honourable example of successful self 
tuition. For a considerable part of his life he retired from the full 
duties of the ministry, and devoted his whole attention to literature, 
making his studies to bear especially upon the elucidation of holy 
Scripture. He particularly excelled in oriental scholarship, and anti- 
quarian research, as well as in his knowledge of curious books in 
almost all languages. Mr. Watson, through life, was a subject of lan- 
gour, pain, and disease ; and was cut off in the midst of his years. — 
He was distinguished by the comprehensiveness of his views, an 
unbounded power of imagination, a sound and discriminating judgment, 
and a philosophic habit of thought ; and his works were written in 
fragments of time abstracted from urgent and pressing official engage- 
ments, and under great bodily suffering. Except in regard to the criticism 
of the New Testament, the studies and pursuits of these eminent men 
had little in common. To the kind of learning for which Dr. Clarke 
was so renowned, Mr. Watson directed little attention. They were both 
great and pious men, examples of holy diligence and zeal ; and the 
services which they have rendered to the Church will endear their 
names to posterity ; but to set up one man for the purpose of depre- 
ciating the other, is as palpably absurd, as it is opposed to the spirit 
of Christianity. 

As the questions discussed with such ability in Mr. Watson's 
pamphlet were of general interest, the work was read by persons who 
had no connection with the Methodists, and was generally well 
received by orthodox Christians of every denomination. Mr. Hall, 
of Leicester, perused it with great avidity ; and the opinion enter- 
tained of its merits by that incomparable judge of argument and literary 
composition will be seen by the following letter. It was addressed 
to Mr. Watson by a mutual friend, after an interview with that 
celebrated man. At that time Mr. Watson was personally unknown 
to Mr. Hall :— 


May 19th, 1818. 
I avail myself of the first moment of leisure I have had, to commu- 
nicate what I can recollect of the conversation I had with Mr. Robert 
Hall, on the subject of your excellent pamphlet. I wish I could convey 
his sentiments and remarks in his own language ; but being under the 
necessity of taking a long journey immediately on my leaving him, I 
could not commit to paper what had passed till several days after. I 
will give you as nearly as I can what he said on the subject. 

He commenced the conversation by observing how highly he had 
been gratified by the perusal of your work. After some general 
remarks on the style and execution, — which I know your modesty would 
not allow me to repeat, — he proceeded to observe the great importance 
of the subject to the general interests of Christianity ; that he had been 
led to pay more attention to it, than perhaps he otherwise should have 
done, from the circumstance, that it had been warmly agitated by the 
ministers of his own denomination. " But then," — I use exactly his 
own language, — " all our principal men, so far from giving it their 
sanction and support, zealously and decidedly opposed it. Andrew 
Fuller wrote expressly against it ; and its adoption was almost entirely 
confined to the young men. I am very sorry that it has received such 
a sanction and support in your connection, where I fear its influence 
will be injurious. At the same time I think Mr. Watson's pamphlet 
admirably adapted to check its progress, and to settle the minds of 
those who may have been led into a train of perplexing reasoning on 
the point at issue." 

He said that the term " Son of God," which is so frequently used 
in Scripture as the designation of Jesus Christ, could not, by any fair 
interpretation, be confined to the human nature of our Lord. On the 
contrary, he conceived that the Godhead of the Son of God, as such, 
was as clearly revealed as any truth contained in the sacred oracles ; 
so much so, that he considered the doctrine of the Deity of Christ as 
reposing principally on the Divinity of the Sonship. Jesus Christ he 
believed to be the Son of God, not merely in reference to his incarna- 
tion, but as possessing an actual and absolute participation of the 
essence of the Godhead. Without the admission of this a great part 
of the Scriptures must absolutely mean nothing. Many passages in which 
Jesus Christ is spoken of as the Son of God cannot apply to his human 
nature only ; and if they be given up, as not applying to the Deity of 
Christ, we must be inevitably driven either into tritheism or Sabellian- 
ism. He could conceive of no medium. Those passages of Scripture 
which must be given up, if the Divine and eternal Sonship were not 
admitted, were to his mind the most satisfactory parts of the sacred 
oracles on the Deity of Christ ; and afforded, in his judgment, the 
clearest and fullest conviction on that important subject. 

He esteemed the latter part of the pamphlet as both masterly and 
important ; for he apprehended that the most serious consequences 
would result from making a revelation of God submit to the reason 
of man. He spoke in terms of high commendation concerning the 
entire treatise ; and very cordially wished it a very extensive circu- 

In writing these particulars, I have been careful to adhere as closely 
as possible to Mr. Hall's own words, and have succeeded better than I 


at first expected. You may rely upon the whole as containing Mr. 
Hall's genuine opinion; and his authority on such a subject I consider 
of no small value. He gave me permission to make what use I pleased 
of these remarks ; and you are at perfect liberty to do what you please 
with the contents of this letter. 

Dr. Clarke offered no reply to Mr. Watson's publication. He con- 
tented himself with a repetition of his former argument, taking no 
notice whatever of what Mr. Watson had advanced in refutation of it. 
One of the doctor's friends, however, published an answer to Mr. 
Watson's work, and in defence of the doctor's theory ; but he changed 
the ground of the argument ; insisting that the title " Son of God" was 
in the first instance given to our Lord because of the manner in which 
his human nature was produced ; but, having been thus applied to him, 
he was often denominated the Son of God in his complex character, 
as God incarnate ; although, in point of fact, his Divine nature was in 
no sense " begotten of the Father." By this means he attempted to 
neutralize the argument which Mr. Watson had founded upon those texts 
in which the term " Son" is applied to Christ when his Divine nature 
is unquestionably understood ; many such having been adduced. This 
writer introduced into his work many personal reflections upon Mr. 
Watson, for which no occasion whatever had been given. Throughout 
the whole of his pamphlet Mr. Watson had never used an unkind 
epithet in regard to Dr. Clarke, but had treated him with perfect 
courtesy and respect, confining himself, like a Christian and a gentleman, 
to the subject at issue between them. When he read the work in 
which he was spoken of in a manner so coarse and offensive, he said 
to the writer of these memoirs, " How deeply it is to be regretted, that 
Christian men cannot engage in the discussion of a theological ques- 
tion in which they have an equal interest, without indulging themselves 
in insults, and attempting to wound each other's feelings !" To such a 
work he would offer no reply. He had written on the Sonship of 
Cnrist with no unholy or sinister design ; and he knew that the " deep 
things of God" were revealed for a purpose very different from that of 
stirring up the angry passions of human nature. In a later work, how-- 
ever, he met the opponents of the doctrine of the eternal Sonship of 
Christ upon the ground which this writer had taken, and proved it to 
be a mere assumption, opposed to the plain and obvious import of the 
oracles of God. {Theological Institutes, in two volumes, vol. i, p. 
52*. &c.) 

Mr. Watson was not mistaken in anticipating considerable evil from 
the operation of those principles to which Dr. Clarke had unhappily 
given the sanction of his name ; particularly that of submitting the 
most mysterious doctrines of revelation to the judgment and decision 
of human reason. The doctor had himself, in part, applied that princi- 
ple to the subject of God's foreknowledge ; (in his commentary upon 
Acts n ;) and two individuals of speculative habits, belonging to the 
Wesleyan body, and profound admirers of Dr. Clarke, emboldened by 
his example, carried that principle to a length which he would have 
earnestly deprecated, and so as seriously to trench upon the Divine 
authority of the Bible. In the prosecution of their studies, they found 
themselves unable to reconcile the certain foreknowledge of God with 


the feedom of the human will, and the consequent contingency of many 
events ; and therefore decided that future contingencies cannot be known 
even by the infinite and eternal God. They made their reason the 
judge of a doctrine of Scripture ; and in the exercise of its high prero- 
gatives, it set aside an attribute of Deity which he himself expressly 
claims. It gave the lie to the very letter of inspiration ; and resolved 
prophecy, which is one of the main pillars of revelation, into probable 
conjectures ! By the mercy of God the evil was arrested, and an effec- 
tual check was given to these dangerous speculations. The confer- 
ence very properly resolved to admit into its body no man who denied 
the Divine and eternal Sonship of Christ ; aware that such a denial 
would in a great measure disqualify him for the use of their forms of 
devotion ; and that few men, with such an opinion, would long hold the 
true and proper Godhead of the Saviour. That Dr. Clarke held this 
vital article of the Christian faith, they were satisfied ; but his age, and 
piety, and faithful services, continued for near half a century, gave him 
a claim upon their confidence and affection which no young man could 

Mr. Watson's pamphlet on the Sonship of Christ was accompanied 
by similar publications from the pens of the Rev. Messrs. Moore, Hare, 
and Robert Martin ; and by these means, and the interference of the 
conference, the orthodoxy of the body was preserved. Mr. Watson 
went to the source of the evil, and asserted the paramount authority of 
the word of God ; and Dr. Clarke's theory is now generally discarded 
in the Wesleyan body. On none of his literary productions did Mr. 
Watson reflect with more sincere satisfaction through the remainder 
of his life, than upon his pamphlet on the Sonship of Christ. Its pub- 
lication was painful to his own mind, and subjected him to harsh and 
unmerited censures ; but advancing years, and increased knowledge, 
only tended to strengthen his conviction that the views which he 
had advocated were the truth of God ; and the result even surpassed 
his most sanguine hopes. To have been a means of preserving 
inviolate the theological tenets held by the connection to which he was 
so strongly attached, could not but inspire his mind with joyous feel- 
ings. He has modestly adverted to this subject oftener than once, 
especially when he was subjected to uncandid animadversion ; and 
when laid upon his death bed, referring to this controversy, he 
declared that the motives by which he had been actuated were pure 
and upright. 

Agreeably to the direction of conference, in the year 1817, the com- 
mittee to whom the management of the Methodist missions was con- 
fided prepared the plan of a General Wesleyan Missionary Society. 
It was drawn up by Mr. Watson, with the advice of his brethren, and 
submitted to the conference of 1818 for approval. It has since been 
published in the successive reports of the institution. The most 
important feature of this plan is, that it calls into useful exercise the 
good sense, the practical knowledge, and the piety of respectable lay- 
men, in connection with the missionary work, by making them mem- 
bers of the committee of management from year to year ; reserving to 
the preachers only the examination of missionaries, and all cases of 
discipline, according to the usages of the body. As the principles of 
this General Missionary Society were laid down by the conference, in 


its instructions to the committee, the approbation of that body was 
anticipated ; and the first meeting of the " Wesleyan Methodist Mis- 
sionary Society" was held in the City-Road chapel, on Monday the 
4th of April, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, Thomas Thompson, 
Esq., M. P., in the chair. 

This was an occasion of unusual interest. The intelligence which 
had just arrived from Ceylon was exceedingly cheering, as to the pro- 
gress of the mission ; Sir Alexander Johnston, the chief judge of Cey- 
lon, had just arrived from that island, accompanied by two Budhist 
priests, who had come to England, earnestly requesting that they might 
be instructed in Christianity and useful knowledge, by the same body 
of people who had sent the Wesleyan missionaries to India. The 
chapel was crowded to excess ; and, to gratify the public desire, an 
adjourned meeting was held on the Thursday evening following. To 
several events connected with this meeting Mr. Watson refers in the 
following letter addressed 

To Mr. William Walton Wakefield. 

London, May 11th, 1818. 
My Dear Friend, — I hear that you were somewhat grieved that I 
did not visit Wakefield in my way from Hull to Liverpool, on my late 
Yorkshire excursion. I assure you that I was much concerned that I 
was not able to do so, as important and indispensable private business 
obliged me to be in Liverpool on the Friday evening. Be assured that 
no alteration has taken place in my feelings of regard for you and your 
excellent family ; and that it would have been one of my greatest plea- 
sures to have seen you all. 

I rejoice to hear that you are better in health, though still hanging 
in doubtful scales. But you know whom you have trusted ; and that 
he is able to keep that which you have committed to him against that 
day. That he doeth all things well, is in part a matter of experience, 
and in part of faith. But it shall appear in the end ; and in the mean- 
time our one great business is, to live by faith in the promise, " I will 
never leave thee, nor forsake thee." I hope you may yet be spared 
for the sake of others ; and that the evening of your days will have 
many bright prospects and heavenly visitations. 

We have just got over the bustle of our meetings in London. I have 
had hard work for the three weeks past ; but it is over, and leaves no- 
thing but thankfulness. Our meetings in London were never so good. 
We had large attendance, good speaking, good sermons, and, what 
some think as good as all the rest, a capital collection. This year, at 
our public services and meetings, it amounted to more than £800, with 
a profusion of ear rings, finger rings, silver and gold trinkets, thrown 
into the boxes beside. 

Sir Alexander Johnston has arrived from Ceylon, with two Budhist 
priests, whom the committee have engaged to take under their care ; 
and we have placed them under the instruction of Dr. Clarke. They 
are very interesting fellows ; but not yet fully instructed in the things 
of God, though a spirit of inquiry brought them to this country. 

My very affectionate regards to Miss Walton and Miss Ann. At 
conference, all being well, I hope to see you more than once. 


Thank God, my health continues pretty well amidst all fatigues ; and 
I am not weary of my work, though it is somewhat fagging. 

The appearance in England of these priests of Budhu excited great 
interest. They had come in pursuit of religious knowledge ; and Dr. 
Clarke, with his characteristic generosity, undertook their tuition at the 
request of the missionary committee. For about two years they re- 
mained with the doctor at Millbrook, a few miles from Liverpool, and 
were treated by him and his family with unbounded kindness. The 
doctor taught them the principles of true religion, and of a just philo- 
sophy, in opposition to the crude notions in which they had been edu- 
cated. He was greatly pleased with their docility and intelligence ; 
and had the gratification of witnessing their entire renunciation of 
heathenism, and acknowledgment of Christianity as a revelation from 
heaven. Having satisfied the doctor, as to the reality of their conver- 
sion, he baptized them in the name- of the holy trinity, in the Brunswick 
chapel, Liverpool, in the presence of a large congregation, who were 
deeply affected on the solemn occasion, and united in earnest prayer 
for these interesting strangers ; thus publicly declaring their belief in 
God and his Christ, and waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. 

During their residence with Dr. Clarke these men were greatly 
caressed by friends in Liverpool, and by respectable families in the 
surrounding country ; a natural consequence of their agreeable man- 
ners, peculiar dress, and superior shrewdness and vivacity. When the 
time for their departure arrived, having so long enjoyed the sweets of 
British hospitality, they were exceedingly reluctant to leave England, 
and with difficulty were induced to embark for Ceylon. They had 
learned, too, that Churchmanship is somewhat more honourable than 
Methodism ; and on their return to their native land, they renounced 
all connection with the people by whom they had been supported and 
instructed in England, and attached themselves to the Church mission, 
and the government chaplaincy. One of them obtained the office of 
a subordinate teacher, and the other a situation in one of the civil es- 
tablishments. They have both retained the profession of Christianity ; 
and since their return have used their influence in opposition to the 
atheistical superstitions of their countrymen. The report which they 
gave of themselves, on their arrival in England, that they belonged to 
the highest order in the Budhist priesthood, and which was published 
in the missionary notices of the society, proved to be incorrect. They 
belonged to the order of fishermen, which is said to be the lowest grade. 
A strict adherence to truth, it is well known, is far from being a pro- 
minent feature in the Ceylonese character ; and the deception in this 
case was only discovered by persons residing in Ceylon, who were 
surprised at what they read concerning these men in the publications 
which they received from England. 

Mr. Watson attended the conference of 1818, which was held in 
Leeds. The plan and regulations of the General Missionary Society 
met with the cordial sanction of that body ; and he received the una- 
nimous thanks of his brethren for his valuable services through the 
year. At this conference a general fund in behalf of embarrassed 
chapels belonging to the Methodist connection was also instituted, to 
be supported by subscriptions, congregational collections, and legacies, 


out of which cases of distress were to be annually relieved by a com- 
mittee appointed for that purpose. Of this important fund Mr. Watson 
was appointed the secretary ; an office which he sustained for several 
years. Till this period the cases of distressed chapels had been annually 
reported to the conference ; and permission was then given to solicit 
relief for each case, in a specified number of circuits. By this means 
the preachers belonging to the circuits where the distressed chapels 
were situated were taken, often for a long time together, from their 
families and proper work, to the injury of the societies and congrega- 
tions ; and considerable sums of money were unavoidably expended in 
travelling, instead of being applied to the direct objects for which they 
were given. By the plan now adopted these inconveniences were 
effectually obviated. 

At this conference Mr. Watson was removed to the London west 
circuit ; where he had as his colleagues the Rev. Messrs. George 
Morley, John Riles, and George Marsden. His colleagues in the mis- 
sionary secretaryship were Messrs. Bunting and Joseph Taylor. The 
latter of these esteemed men resided at the mission house in Hatton- 
Garden ; and was appointed to direct his whole attention to the con- 
cerns of the missions. Such an arrangement had been rendered 
necessary by the increased extent of the missions ; so that the secre- 
taries could not possibly carry on the domestic and foreign correspond- 
ence, pay the requisite attention to the instruction and outfit of mission- 
aries, and at the same time discharge with due efficiency their pastoral 
duties. Though partially relieved, in regard to the more onerous duties 
of the secretaryship, Mr. Watson's zeal in the missionary cause suffered 
no declension. He lent all the assistance in his power in the manage- 
ment of the society's affairs ; and was ready, at every opportunity, to 
visit the auxiliary societies in different parts of the kingdom at their 
several anniversaries ; and his speeches and sermons every where 
excited an unabated interest. His counsel in the formation of new 
missions, and his advices to the men who were labouring in difficult 
and discouraging stations, were of the most valuable kind. He at once 
enjoyed the confidence of the committee at home, and of the mission- 
aries abroad. 

Mr. Watson's residence in the London west circuit was in Margaret- 
street, Oxford-street, where his thoughtful habits, and penetrating mind 
enabled him to derive instruction from almost every surrounding object. 
He was assiduous in the exercise of his ministry, and the visitation of 
the sick ; and occasionally gratified his taste, and enlarged his know- 
ledge, by a visit to the British museum, and to those exhibitions of art 
with which that part of London often abounds. When he had a leisure 
evening, a visit to the house of commons, or of the lords, when any 
important question was debated, awakened his feelings of patriotism, 
and strengthened his confidence in the wisdom and integrity of the 
statesmen then conducting the affairs of the empire. Sometimes, in 
passing, he would spend an hour in the court of chancery, listening to 
the wrangling of the lawyers ; and he has been heard to say, that when 
he was fortunate enough to hear Lord Eldon give judgment in difficult 
cases, the wisdom, sagacity, and patient thought, displayed by that 
eminent judge, have even heightened his conceptions of the human 


Mr. Watson had not been long in his new situation when he was 
requested to preach a sermon in the Great Queen-street chapel before 
the members of the Sunday School Union ; a service which his friend 
Mr. Bunting had performed twelve or thirteen years before. With 
this request he complied, and in accordance with the wishes of his 
hearers published the discourse. It is not the most splendid of his 
sermons ; but was justly deserving of publication because of the admi- 
rable principles it contains in regard to the right training of youth. — 
Its title is, " Religious Instruction an Essential Part of Education. A 
Sermon preached in Great Queen-street Chapel, before the Teachers 
of the Sunday School Union, October, 1818, and published at the 
request of the Committee of that Institution." It quickly passed 
through two or three editions ; and has been extensively read, not only 
by persons engaged in the communication of Sunday school instruc- 
tion, but by parents, and those who are interested in the spiritual wel- 
fare of children and young persons. With the infidel systems of 
education, which assume that human nature is pure, and therefore 
needs no discipline but that of instruction, literary, scientific, and 
moral, Mr. Watson held no compromise, but waged a most determined 
war. The entire corruption of the human heart formed an essential 
article in his creed j and no education could he consider otherwise 
than radically defective, unless it comprehended a distinct and explicit 
knowledge of the nature and method of salvation through the sacri- 
fice of Christ, as well as a competent acquaintance with Chris- 
tian duty Religious education he considered no less necessary in 
order to the public welfare, than to individual happiness. " We under- 
value neither useful nor elegant acquirements," says he ; " but if 
education comprise not instruction in the ' things' which, before all 
others, ' belong to our peace,' it is a venerable name unfitly and decep- 
tiously applied. From a process so partial and defective no moral 
influence can spring ; it gives no virtue to the individual ; it corrects no 
evil in society. To this the refined nations of antiquity bear mournful 
but instructive testimony ; and why, on a subject so solemnly impor- 
tant to our children and to our land, is not the voice of history re- 
garded ? She has written them refined, learned, and mighty ; but she 
has recorded their vices, and points to their desolations. If learning 
could have preserved them, why has their science survived their poli- 
tical existence, and why does it live only in other climes ? Were they 
without that knowledge, the attainment of which we have too often 
considered to be the chief or the exclusive end of education ? Were 
they destitute of genius, and taste, and arts, and philosophy ? In all 
they are the confessed models of modern nations ; and that state has 
the highest fame which most successfully, though still distantly, 
approaches them. These they wanted not; but they wanted a true 
religion, and a people instructed in it. The polities they erected and 
adorned were built like Babylon, the capital of a still older state, with 
clay hardened only in the sun, and which has long become a mass of 
ruin undistinguished from its parent earth. They were without per- 
petuity, because they were without the elements of it. The fabric of 
their grandeur has crumbled down, because it was not combined with 
the imperishable principles of virtue ; and their want of virtue resulted 
from their want of religion. Shall examples, so frequently suggested 


to our recollection by the books of our boyhood, the studies of our 
riper years, and the veiy terms and allusions of our language, admonish 
us in vain ? Yet, if reflection fail to teach us the absolute inadequacy 
of knowledge, however perfected, to sustain, without the basis of reli- 
gion, either the virtues of private life, or the weight of national inter- 
ests, let us suffer ourselves to be roused into conviction by evidences 
which are ocular and palpable. Go into your public libraries, enriched 
by the literature of the classical states of ancient times, and see them 
crowded also with their mutilated marbles, brought from the fallen 
monuments of their greatness, and saved from the final wastes of time 
and barbarism, to be placed in monitory collocation with the ' wisdom 
of this world,' mocking its imbecility ; as though Providence had 
thereby designed to teach us, that length of days is the sole gift of that 
wisdom whose beginning is ' the fear of the Lord,' and whose great 
lesson is ' to depart from evil.' Athens mourning along the galleries 
of our public museums, over the frail regis of her Minerva, admonishes 
us to put our trust within the shadow of the impenetrable shield of the 
truth of the living God." 

It is immortality that constitutes the true dignity of man ; and it is 
this which supplies the true motive to affectionate and persevering 
exertion in the inculcation of Divine truth upon the youthful mind. 

" Yesterday," says Mr. Watson, " that child was nothing ; but when 
will it cease to be ? Never ! Immortality is written upon it, and the 
inscription is indelible, for it was traced by the finger of God. The 
mind has but begun its play ; its instincts and its faculties but now move 
with incipient life. Even dull and worthless matter is of older date. 
' Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth.' Ages of history 
passed before it was said of him, ' A child is born into the world.' — 
History will continue its annals, matter its combinations, the heavens 
their course ; but he shall survive them all. The revolutions of ages 
shall be forgotten, the high events of life chase each other from the 
stage, ' the fashion of this world pass away,' a period may arrive when 
it shall require an effort of even a perfected memory to recall the 
events accounted the most important on earth ; ' the heavens shall pass 
away with a great noise,' and leave the spaces they have occupied to 
silence and to nothing ; but the child set in the midst of us ' shall then 
Je.' The basis of its existence cannot be shaken ; but in those count- 
less ages which its existence must fill, never let it be forgotten that it 
will be a happy spirit before the throne of God, or a hopeless outcast 
from his heaven. What then, if it depend on you in any degree to 
stamp bliss on that immortality, ' to save a soul from death,' can I call 
forth your pious cares in the service of the institutions you have 
espoused, by a more powerful motive ; by a motive of which you can 
be more sensible ? I know that other motives of great power are in 
operation, and I would not undervalue them. Your triumphs are in 
the first order of civil and moral achievements ; but they all terminate 
here,—' to save a soul from death,' is the crowning conquest. You 
save from great and afflictive vices ; that is much. You preserve that 
virgin innocence from pollution ; you spare the feelings of that mother 
who might, but for your institutions, have been doomed to count her 
days of grief, and nights of anguish, by the pulsations of a broken 
heart. You rescue that youth from habits of destructive folly and 


shame, ' from the strange woman whose house leads to death, and 
whose feet take hold of hell.' You purge the mass out of which a 
future generation is to be formed, and prepare elements for a better 
state of society ; but the power of doing more than this is given you, 
and the very possibility of influencing the eternal felicity of a spirit 
of man never to lose its being or its consciousness, is animating, and 
ought to arouse your energy, and give perseverance to its application. 
What, if you are the honoured instruments of giving any considerable 
proportion of the immortal spirits committed in infancy to your care, 
to the Churches of Christ on earth, and to the general assembly of 
heaven ! This is not mere possibility ; it is probable ; in some cases 
it is certain." 

There were several coincidences connected with the progress of the 
Methodist missions to which Mr. Watson often adverted, as striking 
indications of providential interference. As the funds of the society 
increased, promising fields of labour presented themselves, and invited 
cultivation ; and in no instance have willing labourers been wanting. — 
Mr. Watson was often affected and encouraged, when he saw succes- 
sive companies of young men arrive in London, burning with zeal for 
the salvation of the world, cheerfully resigning all the endearments of 
kindred and of home, and departing to their several destinations, 
amidst the prayers and blessings of Christian people. So thoroughly 
was his mind imbued with the missionary spirit, that he sometimes 
expressed an earnest wish to accompany these "messengers of the 
Churches" to heathen countries, and share with them in the glorious 
toil of teaching Christianity to savage men. 

Early in November, 1818, Mr. Watson, accompanied by his friend 
and colleague, as missionary secretary, Mr. Bunting, visited Bristol, 
whence several missionaries were about to embark for the West Indies. 
These were Messrs. Pennock, Hirst, Marshall, Ames, Adams, and 
Hartley ; and the secretaries were requested by the committee to 
assist at their ordination in that city. The service was conducted in 
the King-street chapel. Mr. Watson preached ; Mr. Bunting then 
stated the objects and order of the solemnity, requesting the missiona- 
ries to give an account of their religious experience, their call to the 
ministry, and views in undertaking the missionary work. The Rev. 
Walter Griffith proceeded with the ordination service, assisted by the 
missionary secretaries, the Rev. Messrs. Thomas Wood, Robert Smith, 
Dermott, Waddy, Henshaw, and others ; and the brethren were set 
apart by imposition of hands. On the following evening Mr. Bunting 
preached in St. Philip's chapel, on the subject of Christian missions, 
and the duty of Christians to support and aid them. This was an 
occasion of unusual solemnity. Several preachers from the adjoining 
circuits were present ; and the congregations were exceedingly large. 
The earnestness with which the people united in prayer for these 
young ministers of Jesus Christ was very affecting ; and the services 
left a deep and holy impression upon many minds. 

Addressing the missionaries in the course of this sermon, Mr. Wat- 
son said, " A minister of Christ living to himself is the most pitiable 
object on which the eye can fall. He has assumed a profession of 
self denial, and he is self indulgent ; he has entered a calling which 
is denominated holy, and he has been secular ; he has taken the over- 


sight of souls, and he has looked only to his own interests. He has 
himself slumbered, when his business was to keep the world awake. 
To him was committed the cause of Christ, which he was to advance ; 
and he has been indifferent to the general movement, if his depart- 
ment of the machine has had activity enough to grind him his daily 
bread. What will that servant say when his Lord cometh? And 
come he will. How will he appear, when confronted with apostles 
and apostolic men, into whose labours he has entered, and who drop- 
ped before him a mantle of spirit and of zeal which he has been too 
slothful to take up ? ' God shall smite thee thou whited wall.' ' Give 
an account of thy stewardship,' shall, ere long, rouse thee from thy 
slumber. Then the warnings thou hast softened, then the promises 
thou has criminally applied, then the souls thou hast neglected, then 
the sick beds thou hast forsaken, then the solemn duties thou hast 
slumbered over, shall all start into recollection. O terrible day, when 
judgment shall begin at the house of God, and unfaithful ministers shall 
be singled out for eminence of shame and signal punishment ! 

" For you, my dear brethren, we have better hopes. At your first 
entrance upon the ministry of Jesus, you have given proof that the 
principle of the text has been planted in mighty operation within you. 
You go to live, not to yourselves, or the high and arduous missionary 
path would not have invited you. But water the principle by your 
daily prayers, and your daily watchings, that though we see you not 
for many intervening years, and some of you, or some of us, not till the 
day when we shall all stand together before the judgment seat of 
Christ, ' we may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, 
with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.' Take the 
apostle of the Gentiles for your model. Next to Christ, you cannot 
have a greater. See him live, not unto himself, but to the Lord. Have 
you made sacrifices'! Count them all but dross, that you may win 
Christ. Are you anxious for knowledge ? Let it be the most excel- 
lent knowledge of Jesus Christ. Have you intercourse with men ? 
Let it be in meekness and condescension, that you may gain some. 
Will your lot be various ? Learn how to be abased, and how to abound. 
Every where, and in all things, be instructed both to be full and to be 
hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Let the love of Christ 
constrain you ; and, knowing the terrors of the Lord, persuade men. 
Have you the care of Churches ? Like him, make prayers to God for 
them day and night with tears. Aim at once at his lofty magnificence, 
and his tender condescensions ; at his bold daring, and his flowing 
sympathies. And, finally, like him, look constantly to the day of 
Christ, that then it may appear you have neither run in vain, nor la- 
boured in vain. One approving smile of your Lord then will compen- 
sate any labour, any suffering. All will be for ever swallowed up in 
the unutterable happiness which will follow that sentence, ' Well done, 
good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.' " 



Mr. Watson's Address in the City-Road Chapel, on the Appointment of a Num- 
ber of Missionaries — His Views of the Missionary Character and Work — Report 
of the Missionary Society for the Year 1818 — Unsettled State of the Nation — 
Mr. Watson's loyal and patriotic Exertions — Letter to Miss Smith — Embarrassed 
State of the Mission Fund — Appeal to the Public in its behalf — Annual Meeting 
of the Missionary Society in 1819 — Sir Alexander Johnston — Conference of 
1819 — Pastoral Address to the Methodist Societies — Instructions to the Wes- 
leyan Missionaries — First Report of the General Chapel Fund. 

Not long after his return to London, Mr. Watson was called to 
assist in a service, similar to that at Bristol, when another band of 
missionaries were solemnly set apart for the work of the ministry 
among the heathen. This service took place in the City-Road chapel, 
Dec. 29th ; when Mr. Watson delivered an address to the congrega- 
tion. The missionaries were, the Rev. Messrs. Hume, Roberts, Stead, 
Bott, and Allen, who were bound for Ceylon ; Mr. Fletcher, for Bom- 
bay ; and Mr. Archbell, for South Africa. The following is the sub- 
stance of Mr. Watson's address. It was found among his papers after 
his decease : — 

You, my brethren, have often met together in this house of prayer, 
on occasions in which solemnity and joy have mingled their influence 
upon your feelings, and led you to exclaim, " Surely this is no other 
than the house of God, and the gate of heaven !" 

Many of you cannot enter its walls without being reminded of the 
years of the right hand of the Most High, and of your obligations to 
him and his cause. You have gone with the multitude of them that 
kept holiday ; you have said, " come, let us go up to the house of 
the Lord ;" you have entered his gates with thanksgiving, and into his 
courts with praise. 

You have not often heard the joyful summons to your places in this 
sanctuary on an occasion more important, or more strongly connected 
with your religious feelings, than the present. Seven young men are 
before you, who have offered themselves as messengers to the heathen ; 
who, having had a good report of the Church, the approbation of its 
ministers, and the sanction of the committee appointed to manage our 
missions, after being set apart by solemn prayer, according to aposto- 
lic usage, and receiving the right hand of fellowship from their brethren 
in the ministry, are about to depart to preach in pagan lands, to an- 
nounce the name of a yet unknown Saviour to millions ready to perish, 
to attempt the extension of the kingdom of Christ, and in the name of 
the Lord to set up the banners of a holy fight, where Satan has had an 
almost undisturbed dominion for ages of deepening darkness, and mul- 
tiplying misery. 

0, if we have a heart to cherish and command the enterprises of 
holy zeal, to hail the revival of the apostolic spirit, to feel concerned 
for that cause for which the Saviour, whose birth we celebrate, died 
upon a cross, its warmest, its holiest emotions are due to such an oc- 
casion. Thus the primitive Church took up the cause and the cares 
of its missionaries. They suffered them not to steal, as it were, from 
the communion of saints, to scenes of difficult labour and probable 


suffering, unblessed, uncheered, uncommended to the Lord. Even in 
an age when the Holy Spirit selected his agents by miraculous indica- 
tion, extraordinary calls were not thought to discharge the obligation 
of human co-operation. In the case of the separation of Saul and 
Barnabas, the message was not to them, but to the Church. It was 
said, " Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereto I have 
called them." The call was the Lord's ; the act of separation was 
theirs ; and thus they went, supported by the sympathies, and assisted 
by the prayers, of those who loved their work, and them for their 
work's sake. 

Happy state of feeling and principle in the Church, when every in- 
dividual looked round with anxious eye upon the distant fields of mis- 
sionary labour, and engaged his heart to pray that the work of the 
Lord might appear to his servants ; and when every Christian mis- 
sionary would encourage himself in the Lord, by recollecting that 
wherever the name of Christ was named, there the prayers of saints 
were ascending to God in his behalf. We are returning again, I 
trust, to this true and natural state of Christian feeling. The Church 
begins to feel its high designation, as the light of the world. The as- 
sembly of this evening is an encouraging proof that this spirit is in 
activity. You are come to this service because you love the cause, 
and because you love them who engage in it. Nor are weighty con- 
siderations wanting why we should, in the solemn services of this even- 
ing, commend them to your regards, and, above all, to your interces- 
sions with God. We thus commend them, 

1. Because of the work. It is a work connected with consequences 
of the highest magnitude on which the thought of man can dwell. — 
They go to preach " all the words of this life" to men in a state of 
guilt and condemnation. The object of their preaching is the salvation 
of the souls of men ; and the probability is, that without either their 
ministry, or another of a similar kind, the people to whom they are 
sent would not be saved. Now in proportion as we believe the truths 
of God's word, and realize the awful emphasis of the loss of a human 
soul, our hearts must be engaged in such a work as that which is 
assigned us this evening. Did we stand on the shore of an ocean 
rolling in the tempest, and witness a vessel upon the rocks ; the crew 
stretching out their hands to the shore, and making signs for immediate 
help ; no heart could witness the scene without the most intense and 
painful interest. Were a few mariners to put off in a boat, exposing 
themselves, to save the crew, — now themselves apparently buried in 
the waves, now rising above, and yet with dauntless hearts braving the 
billows, and making for the wreck, — which of you would not make 
common cause with those generous men, and beseech the God of 
heaven to preserve their lives, and crown with success the effort of 
their humanity to save the perishing crew from the devouring deep ? 
Such are the sentiments with which we ought to contemplate the 
enterprise of these young men ; such the interest in their success ; 
such the earnest prayers with which we are to follow them. For know 
that not the lives of a few men are at stake. The souls of men are 
descending into darkness and misery everlasting. Wave after wave 
sweeps away its myriads ; and in the agony of descending to perdition, 
the people call for the help which only we who have the Gospel can give. 

Vol. I. 13 


But the importance of the work they are engaged in is not to be 
estimated by the part only which will be assigned to the missionaries 
before you. They are a band, whose hearts God hath touched with 
compassion in behalf of the perishing heathen ; and many, we trust, will 
be the individuals whom they will rescue from rice, misery, and ruin. 
And happy will they be, after all their toils and danger, if they bring 
them off safely into the peaceful haven of the Church, and to the shores 
of a better world. The people thus saved wifl be their joy, and the 
crown of their rejoicing. But the sending of them forth is onlv a part 
of a system which is now in operation for the salvation of a world ; and 
from that circumstance the work derives importance. The missionary 
system is that alone on which the hope of a fallen world can rest. 
After all the experiments which have been made, no man of reason 
can hope for the moral advancement of the world from any other means. 
The world needs the strongest remedy. This is now confessed. The 
false views on this subject, which have been long cherished, are now 
dissipated. Once we were led op the mountain to see the kingdoms 
of the earth, and the glory of them. Natural religion exerted her 
benign sway : the law written on the heart commanded more authori- 
tatively them that contained in the perfect revelation of Jesus. AVe 
were amused by divines with the theory of various dispensations, all 
differing in their degrees of light, but equal in point of safety ; with 
dissertations on pagan virtue by philosophers ; with descriptions of the 
virtues of savage lite by novelists ; but we were then led up the 
mountain, as our Saviour was led, by the deceiver. Like him, too, 
we now see that world lying in wickedness, which kindled his love, 
and led him to his cross. The sfaudy vision is vanished ; and all 
around are 

•• Sights of wo, 
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace 
And rest can never dwell:" 

and only dufering from hell in this, that we cannot add, 

" Hope never comes." 

Yes. thank God. there is hope : but it is in the Gospel taken by mis- 
sionaries. Every means but this has been tried, and has failed. The 
experiment is now making by the Gospel ; and if the result proposed 
be. to sjive truth to ever} - mind of man, to destroy their superstitions, to 
abolish their crimes and cruelty, to bind up society by the bond of 
morals, to unite all in one happy family, and to restore all to God, with 
what feelings ought the grand process to be watched ! what eagerness 
of curiositv '. what earnestness of wish ! If this fail, the world sinks 
for ever ; if it succeed, everlasting honour shall surround the name of 
your Saviour, and the triumphs of Christianity be sounded to the bounds 
of earth. In this process Christ interests himself; it is the travail of 
his soul ; angels watch it from their thrones of light ; and if our hearts 
are right with God aud his cause, we shall watch it too. Success 
dawns upon us already ; the work is in progress ; trophy after trophy 
is erected ; " Bel boweth down, and Nebo stoopeth ;" and the fervent 
prayers and efforts of the Church, perseveringly applied, shall at length 
effect the glorious consummation. 


The youths before you are agents in this system. To them the 
application of it is, in fact, confided. On even them great results may 
depend ; for who can tell what God will effect by instruments of his 
own choosing ? A single effort in some new direction, the forbearance 
of patience for a short time, or a bold enterprise of zeal, may, even in 
their case, connect itself with a success not to be estimated. Individu- 
ally, they are nothing ; but connect them with the great agency which 
God has set in motion, and they are mighty in his hands. It is thus 
you draw the pebble from the brook ; itself, when separate, is as 
insignificant an instrument as can be supposed ; but you connect it 
with the sling and the arm of David, and them with the name of the 
God of the armies of Israel ; and the giant form of paganism, which 
had long bidden defiance to the Almighty himself, in the midst of its 
vauntings lies prostrate in death. 

2. We commend these young men to your prayers because of the 
qualifications with which it is necessary they should be endowed, in 
order to success in the work which will this night be committed to them. 
What are those qualifications ? We estimate them too lightly to sup- 
pose that without either their or your continued prayers they should 
ever be invested with them. 

An unwearied laboriousness. " Never be unemployed. Never be 
triflingly employed." These words form a proper motto for every 
minister ; but they ought to be written as on tablets of brass before 
every missionary. The greatest examples of laborious zeal have been 
missionaries : Christ, who went about doing good ; and St. Paul, at 
whose very name the heart of every missionary ought to take fire. — 
He was ever forgetting the things behind, like a racer in full course. 
That one man filled the vast Roman empire with the sound of salvation . 

Another essential missionary qualification is a rigid self denial. No 
man can be a Christian without this ; but in a missionary every virtue 
must be carried to its full dimensions. All must be great and high, 
because his work is such. His body must be denied. " I keep my 
body under" subjection, said the great missionary. His ease must be 
denied : " In labours more abundant." His love of life must be denied ; 
like St. Paul, he must neither start from perils by sea, land, robbers, 
nor false brethren. His literary taste must be often denied : " I deter- 
mined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him 
crucified." His own will, and even sense of right, must be denied : 
he must not please himself: "If eating flesh cause my brother to 
offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth." 

To the missionary an extraordinary endowment of zeal is necessary. 
Without this, indeed, these young men would not have appeared before 
you this evening ; but it is not enough that the flame should now burn. 
It is fanned by conversation, by reading, by the hope of success ; but 
there are circumstances of a different kind into which many of them 
will be thrown. The zeal of the missionary is to live in solitude and 
discouragement, and in apparent reverses. It is to animate him when 
none shall feed the fire ; and when all shall join to repress it. When 
hope itself languishes, it must be a flame to burn with steady brightness, 
and stimulate the soul to labours and perseverance, when many waters 
shall pour themselves out to quench it. \ 

Another missionary qualification is meekness. " The servant of 


God must not strive." In meekness he must instruct those that are 
without. The reason why this virtue is to exist in the greatest degree 
in a missionary is, because it is there more frequently called into 
exercise. In a work untried and new, much difference in opinion may 
arise between him and his brethren ; and surely a mutual forbearance 
is necessary where each may be wrong in judgment. He will meet 
with sights of folly and sin to stir his spirit within him ; and he ought 
to be mindful lest they stir up other passions beside love and pity. The 
spirit of St. Paul was stirred at Athens, when he saw the city wholly 
given to idolatry ; yet his sermon was not passionate. Above all, while 
the missionary will meet with persons bearing the same holy name, he 
may have no co-operation from them. They will look at things with 
other aspects, and possess much less of that noble daring than he 
feels ; or they may be traitors to the cause, and openly or secretly 
obstruct him : yet still the servant of God is not to strive ; no, though 
he see the work of years blasted, and he walks mournfully round the 
wrecks of his prayers, his tears, his labours. Even then, he is to com- 
mit his cause to Him that judgeth righteously, and lay his hand upon 
his mouth. 

Patience, too, is an essential missionary virtue. We mean not only 
a willingness to suffer, but to wait for success. He whose spirit can 
only act from one feeling is not the man for this work. It is a work 
into which principle is to be carried ; and he only is qualified for it 
whose heart, when it leans upon the great principles of duty, catches 
new inspiration from the touch, and hastens onward in the path of 
labour. Let neither missionaries nor people deceive themselves. The 
pagan world is a field where much is to be removed, where the growth 
is slow, where the blights are frequent. Evil habits are to be over- 
come ; the power of a polluted and distorted imagination to be con- 
trolled : and sometimes even Christian Churches are prematurely 
formed. An impatient man would have given up some of the most 
important missions in the early periods of their existence. Duty 
belongs to the missionary. The times and seasons are in the hand 
of God. 

We might enlarge the catalogue of virtues essentially and appropri- 
ately Christian, but time forbids. Suffice it to say, that they must be 
complete in number, and complete in maturity. The ordinary man 
and the extraordinary work would ill agree. But why have we made 
this enumeration ? To impress upon you the necessity of your prayers 
now, and of your constant prayers hereafter. If these were qualifica- 
tions to be learned from books, we could meet the case of these men 
by adding to their libraries ; if schools could furnish them, we could 
provide them masters ; but they are from God alone, — from the abiding 
of his Spirit, from his special operation. Such operations no power, 
no wisdom, no money can command ; but they are commanded by the 
prayers of saints, when the Church cries out, " Let thy priests, Lord 
God, be clothed with salvation." 

3. We commend our brethren to your prayers, because, great as 
are the requisite qualifications for their work, and justly as we may 
expect that Divine aid will be engaged in their behalf,' their dangers 
require that they should be upheld by the fervent prayers of the 


They are men ; and, " Lord, what is man !" Place him where you 
will, give him the care of souls, the ministry of the word of life, the 
most solemn and the highest condition in which a human being can 
be placed ; yet he is encompassed with the infirmity of his nature. 
" We have this treasure in earthen vessels." The man and the mis- 
sionary are as opposed to each other, as flesh to spirit, and earth to 

As men, you have a strong self love ; as missionaries, you must 
love your neighbour, not as yourselves, but better than yourselves. 
As men, you are lovers of ease ; as missionaries, you must love labour. 
As men, your hearts cleave to father, mother, and country ; as mission- 
aries, you must hearken, and forget your father's house, and find a 
house wherever there is a soul to save. As men, you cannot but be 
desirous of honour ; as missionaries, you must welcome reproach, and 
wear it as the signet which authenticates your mission, and adorns 
your character. As men, you shrink from suffering ; as missionaries, 
you must rejoice that you are counted worthy to suffer shame for the 
name of Christ. As men, you might be tempted to leave your work 
in pursuit of earthly advantages ; as missionaries, your riches must be 
exclusively in the souls you are the instruments of saving, the happi- 
ness you diffuse, in the love of the children of your schools, the affec- 
tion of those whom you turn from darkness to light : having food and 
raiment, you are therewith to be content. As men, you are self will- 
ed ; as missionaries, your will is to be lost in the will of God. But 
this dominion of the missionary over the man will not be established 
without a struggle ; and it is a glorious victory, the noblest moral vic- 
tory that ever the Church presents to us ; and it is attained only by 
fervent prayer. 

There is another consideration which exists in the case of most 
missionaries, and in those now before you, — they are youths. They 
must generally be so from necessity. Youth only can grow familiar 
with climate, attain language, and possess enterprise : but let their 
youth plead for them. Let it not say in vain, " Pray for us." We all 
know the dangers of youth at home, surrounded and supported as they 
are by example and influence. We know the dangers of young 
ministers from pride, from inexperience, from error, though fathers in 
Christ are at our right hand and our left ; yet nothing is impossible 
with God. The youthful Timothy and Titus rank among the highest 
names of the Christian Church. From the prayers these men will 
offer, and from those you Avill join to them, though they are men, we 
confidently hope for virtues more than human ; though youths, we ex- 
pect a wisdom beyond their years ; gravity, meekness, and " sound 
speech which cannot be condemned ;" examples of the believers " in 
word, in conversation, in charity, spirit, faith, purity." 

Lastly, we commend them to your prayers because they are your 
agents in a work to which you have solemnly pledged yourselves. 

This work is not theirs exclusively, but yours. You go not to the 
heathen. They go for you, and in your name. They are, according 
to the apostolic designation, " the messengers of the Churches." In 
this character you are deeply interested in them, that, as your messen- 
gers and representatives, they should honour your religious profession, 
and exhibit your purity, your religious zeal, your Christian wishes, in 


the pagan world ; that, as your messengers, they should deliver the 
messages you send by them, the Gospel message, unadulterated, with- 
out defect, not preaching another Gospel ; that, as your messengers, 
they should bear your message widely, as you would wish it to be 
borne. How widely is that ? To all within the reach of their voice, 
to all they meet, you wish them to proclaim your Saviour, and to be- 
seech them to be reconciled to God. 

You will not then dismiss them without your best wishes ; without 
some token that you are in earnest in sending them. You will not, 
after they are gone, dismiss them from your thoughts. You will be 
anxious to know how the message has been received. If they meet 
with trials, you will sympathize with them ; if with future sorrow, you 
will weep with them ; if with success, you will triumph with them. 
Remember, they are your messengers ; and if you wish success to the 
message, pray earnestly, pray for the messenger. 

And now, having commended our beloved brethren to your prayers, 
give me leave, in conclusion, to congratulate you on the encouraging 
fact, that the intercessions you have already offered for the prosperity 
of the cause of Christ have received many cheering and marked an- 
swers. You have prayed that labourers might be raised, and sent 
forth. The prayer has been answered. Never were there so manv 
ready to offer themselves for this service. Few of the Churches feel 
a want. We, at least, through the Divine mercy, have none. The 
men, too, are such as none but God could raise up. They know the 
truths they are about to teach ; they are witnesses that the Gospel is 
the power of God unto salvation. They have gone through the sor- 
rows of repentance ; they have felt the personal want of a Saviour ; 
they have heard his voice of forgiveness, and felt his arm of salvation. 
They will not deal in the false commerce of a truth unfelt. Knowing 
the terrors of the Lord, they will persuade men. Knowing the love 
of Christ, they can commend him to others. Like the two disciples, 
to Nathanael, having first themselves been with Jesus, they can say, 
" Come and see." 

You have prayed for success ; and you have been heard in no ordi- 
nary degree. Is it not encouraging that you have one hundred minis- 
ters employed in this work ; and all, as far as we know, usefully, — 
some of them eminently so ? Is it not a delightful reflection, that you 
number in your societies, in the beautiful islands of the west, more 
than twenty thousand persons, chiefly negroes, slaves, and once pagans, 
who crowd your places of worship, listen with delight to the same 
Gospel that you hear, sing the same hymns of praise, and rejoice in 
hope of the same heaven ? You have mingled your light with the 
light of others ; and you give it both to the western and southern shores 
of Africa ; and there are who rejoice in its rising. The palm groves 
of Ceylon, alas ! too often resounding with the names of demons, begin 
to hear that name which is above every other. You have, then, your 
places of worship, your schools, and your missionaries, who rim to and 
fro, that knowledge may be increased. You have begun in continen- 
tal India ; and the door is opening before you. Take along with your 
successes those greatly important ones of other societies, who are 
engaged in the same common cause ; and though Protestant missions 
are of so late a date, and as yet so contracted in operation, even now 


you may exclaim, " Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who only 
doeth wondrous things ;" and you feel all the glow of hope, and the 
repose of confidence, while you repeat again the concluding prayer, 
" Let the whole earth be filled with his glory !" 

With these encouragements you will send forth the brethren before 
you ; but while they are employed in their work, let us not forget that 
we are to be attentive to ours. An important share of it devolves upon 
us, though the message must be carried by them. It is ours to culti- 
vate the spirit of holy zeal at home, while they exemplify it abroad. 
It is ours to engage as many prayers, and as many contributions, be- 
side our own, as our influence may command. It is ours to keep the 
light and life of religion beaming and glowing in our Churches, that 
nominal Christians at home, and the heathen abroad, may share the 
benefit with us. If our country be the central sun of the moral system 
of the world, let us do our part to purge the spots from its surface, and 
remove the clouds from before its face, that it may pour its full influ- 
ence upon all lands ; and let us do this the more, as we see the day 
approaching, — that day, when we shall be silent in darkness. What 
thine hand findeth to do, do quickly ; for thou art man. " Dust thou 
art, and unto dust shalt thou return." What are worldly hopes and 
fears to a being thus circumstanced ; ever walking round the brink of 
his grave ? Into that, whatever is worldly must descend with us. 
That which is of the earth is earthly. But there are acts over which 
no such destiny presides. They have a life beyond our own ; we 
shall meet them again, in their glorious results, when we rise from the 
dust of earth. The prayers we have offered, the riches we have sanc- 
tified, the labours we have undertaken for Christ and his cause, shall 
roll on, accumulating their effects through time ; they will spread over 
seas and continents ; and they will be seen when the dead, small and 
great, shall stand before God. You put imperishable seed into the 
hands of the brethren before you, to sow in fields you will never visit. 
They must fulfil their day of labour. " In the morning sow thy seed, 
and in the evening withhold not thine hand." Though that day may be 
prolonged by your prayers, it will be but as a span. Perhaps we shall 
not see them again till the heavens be no more ; but the work to which 
they are commissioned will not perish with them. When these hea- 
vens are no more, you will see the fruit of your Christian benevolence 
in sending them forth. You will see the trophies won from paganism, 
before the throne of Him by whose power they obtained them. They 
shall bring them from the east, and from the west, and from the north, 
and from the south ; and they shall sit down in the kingdom of God. 

This admirable address, delivered to a large assembly of Christian 
people, met for the purpose of commending to God in prayer a com- 
pany of missionaries, just about to sail to their several destinations, 
in different quarters of the globe, and not expecting all to meet again 
in this world, shows the depth of pious feeling which Mr. Watson 
cherished in connection with the missionary work. The missionaries, 
in his estimation, were called by God ; their qualifications were his 
gift ; their success depended entirely upon his blessing ; in order to 
their continued usefulness in their labour, deep personal piety was 
indispensable ; and that piety was to be maintained by incessant prayer 


on their part, to which, also, the supplications of the Church might 
essentially contribute. His sympathy with the missionaries was 
affectionate and strong. He greatly admired their piety, zeal, and 
self denial ; regarding them, under God, as the hope and salvation of 
heathen lands, and therefore as placed under the special care of 
Divine Providence. The trials which awaited them in future life, 
and the tender recollections which would often occur to them in the 
midst of their solitary and discouraging labours, awakened in his 
generous mind the kindest emotions. It was his practice earnestly to 
exhort the people to sanctify their contributions by constant prayer ; 
and to identify the missionary work with their daily employments, and 
their own spiritual prosperity. 

The report of the Methodist missions for 1818, which was published 
about the close of the year, represented those institutions in a state of 
rapid advancement. The income of the society had risen to some- 
what above twenty thousand pounds ; the number of missionaries had 
been increased to one hundred and three ; and the members in society, 
under the pastoral care of the missionaries, was upward of twenty -three 
thousand. After specifying the sums received from the various dis- 
tricts, the writer of the report makes the following appeal in behalf of 
the missions. It shows the intense interest which he still took in their 
stability and enlargement : — 

" Highly gratifying as it is to the committee to be able to state this 
increase of the fund, and particularly as it marks the wider extension 
of those principles and feelings to which the missionary cause owes 
its efficiency, they must state that it is not yet equal to the support of 
the missions already established, and to enable the committee to meet 
those calls for help which are continually reaching them from various 
parts ; enterprises which present the best promise of success, and which 
it will be most painful to deny. Some of them, indeed, have already 
received the sanction of the conference, and have met with the ardent 
approbation of the friends of our missions generally. If the resources 
of the friends of the Methodist missions were exhausted, the commit- 
tee would be obliged to pass by these openings and prospects with a 
sigh ; and retire to lament that those souls to whose aid they have 
been summoned must be left to perish for lack of knowledge. But 
they have other views. There are extensive districts in which no 
missionary societies have yet been formed ; and circuits and parts 
of circuits where district societies already exist, where the plans of 
missionary societies have not been introduced, or fully acted upon. 
Perhaps there are few places where, by increasing the number of col- 
lectors, or by the collectors applying themselves with renewed energy 
to their important office, the receipts might not be greatly advanced ; 
and, with the knowledge of these facts, the committee cannot despair 
of larger supplies. There is a large body of Christians in every 
place disposed by God himself to support and extend his cause ; who 
pray, with increased emphasis, ' Thy kingdom come ;' and, animated by 
the signs of the coming of the Son of man, jealous for his honour, and 
grieved that he is so little known, are willing to contribute with libe- 
rality and readiness, to those plans which propose his glory, and the 
extension of his kingdom. The aid of such persons need only be 
solicited to be obtained ; and as no means appear so effectual as the 


plans of missionary societies, the committee trust that they will be 
carried into full effect where they are already established, by the 
superintendence of the preachers, the attention of the committees, and 
the activity of the collectors ; and that, where they are not commenced, 
they will be adopted at the first opportunity. To provide means for 
the supply of the Christian ministry to the destitute nations of the 
world is now one of the special duties which Providence, by affording 
so many opportunities, has devolved upon Christians of the present 
day. This is their vocation. The conversion of the world is the end 
at which they are steadily to look ; and every exertion by which that 
great result may be forwarded is now to be regarded as entering into 
our imperative duties, and as the work by which we are to glorify 
God. The state of the world, as laid before us by the information 
which is constantly accumulating, cannot be received with indifference. 
The spirit of every good man must be stirred within him. The facili- 
ties afforded by Providence for relieving his dark and fallen condition 
cannot be without meaning or intention. They are the indications of 
the finger of God, and they point to our work. We may not, except 
in a few honourable instances, be prepared to undergo missionary 
labours, and make missionary sacrifices, personally; but there are 
important methods in which we may serve the work abroad by our 
diligence at home. Our prayers will aid it ; it will be aided by our 
contributions ; but they most effectually aid it who, in addition to these 
means, employ their influence and counsel in bringing into one united 
and regular course of contribution and supply the offerings of the Chris- 
tian public. Constant supply will be thus afforded for constant expen- 
diture ; and every missionary institution will be conducted without 
embarrassment, and with confidence as to its support. With every 
accession to the Church of Christ, there will, by such arrangements, 
be an accession to those funds by which the wants of the world are to 
be supplied. By such means the work will proceed, enlarging with 
every year, moving with accelerated force, comprehending larger 
spheres of usefulness, till the supplies of the Church shall be commen- 
surate with the wants of the world. Thus will Zion become the glory 
of all lands, and those great events be accomplished, the prospect of 
which is the inspiration of the co-operating zeal of missionaries and 
people ; and which are assured to us as the reward of authorized 
and persevering efforts. ' The kingdoms of this world shall become 
the kingdoms of God and his Christ ; and he shall reign for ever and 
ever.' " 

The situation of England at the beginning of the year 1819 was 
exceedingly gloomy and discouraging. In consequence of the general 
depression of trade, the condition of the poor, especially in some of 
the manufacturing districts, was very distressing ; and the spirit of 
infidelity and of insubordination was extensively diffused. The minds 
of a large proportion of the community were greatly exasperated against 
their rulers by democratic orators at public meetings, and by a licen- 
tious press. These things were rendered the more alarming by an 
unhappy quarrel between the highest personages in the state, the 
ground of which was afterward made a subject of parliamentary inves- 
tigation. It was impossible that Mr. Watson should be an indifferent 
spectator, when the institutions of the country were seriously menaced, 


and principles were in operation which went to subvert the frame work 
of society ; and, by necessary consequence, to endanger personal 
freedom and safety. Previously to this period he had united with 
several other persons, like minded with himself, in the establishment 
of a weekly newspaper, partly religious, and conducted upon loyal and 
constitutional principles, to meet the exigency of the times ; for it was 
felt to be a serious evil that pious families should have no means of 
obtaining a knowledge of public affairs, except the perusal of papers, 
many parts of which were extemely objectionable in point of senti- 
ment, and some of which were even intended to bring all legitimate 
authority into contempt. The property of this paper was vested in 
persons of the Wesleyan denomination ; but the work was exten- 
sively patronized by clergymen, and other pious individuals belonging to 
the established Church. The columns of this journal not unfrequently 
contained articles written by Mr. Watson; in which he always ap- 
peared as the able and zealous advocate of government and of social 
order. This publication was carried on for some years, and was of 
essential service at that juncture, in preserving the minds of religious 
people from the principles and schemes of men who sought to engage 
them in the cause of revolution. Whatever alteration time had rendered 
necessary in the national institutions, Mr. Watson felt ought to be made 
by the proper authorities, and not by clamorous demagogues, whose 
object was not reform but plunder; and whose spirit, notwithstanding 
their noisy professions, was not patriotism but selfishness. Mr. Wat- 
son's loyalty, which originated in Christian principle, and had been 
consistently maintained through many years, was greatly strengthened 
by the generous protection which the government afforded to the mis- 
sions in the several colonies, and especially in the West Indies, where 
the local authorities were often opposed to the instruction of the slave 
population. He found his majesty's government not only accessible 
in all cases of persecution which were brought before them ; but 
always ready to interpose in behalf of the oppressed missionary and 
his sable charge. As these missions were so dear to Mr. Watson's 
heart, he loved the men who threw around them the shield of a gene- 
rous protection; while, as a Christian, he reverenced them for their 
office' sake, as the "ministers of God for good." 

The following letter, addressed to a pious lady, to whom his minis- 
try appears to have been rendered a means of salvation, shows the 
affectionate interest which he took in the spiritual welfare of a young 
convert ; and the wisdom with which he could build up individual 
believers on their most holy faith : — 

To Miss M. E. Smith, at J. Morton's, Esq., Milbank, Runcorn, 


London, March 23d, 1819. 
My Dear Miss Smith, — There needed no apology on your part 
for writing; and when you feel disposed to write again, I beseech 
you use none. I shall be always happy to hear of your welfare ; and 
if at any time any advice of mine shall be deemed by you of any 
importance, it shall be at your service. From the time I had the 
pleasure of seeing you at Bedford, I have had a pleasing recollection 
of your society. 


The change which has passed upon your mind justly calls for your 
grateful acknowledgments to God, its author. The moment in which 
your heart was effectually turned to your heavenly Father, in full 
choice of his favour and salvation, was the most important in your 
life, and the most important you will ever experience. It introduced 
you to new relations, to new enjoyments, to new hopes. It enabled 
you to say, what you could never say before, " Now I am in a state in 
which I need but persevere to secure every interest of my being in 
time and eternity." " Behold," said your Saviour in that moment, " I 
have set before thee an open door, which no man can shut." 

While this calls for all the love of your heart to Him, let it remind 
you of your renewed and enlarged obligations. A treasure so valu- 
able ought to be well guarded ; a birthright so high is not to be 
bartered for Esau's mess of pottage. " As ye have received Christ 
Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him," with the same simplicity, child- 
like dependence, oneness of object and motive ; remembering that you 
have entered upon a race, and, of course, are to press forward. Allow 
me to suggest the following rules : — 1. Rest not a moment without the 
felt presence of your GocL 2. To this end, repose a full and daily 
confidence in the merits and intercession of your Saviour, through 
whom alone you can draw near to God. 3. Maintain the inward spirit 
of prayer, and grateful acknowledgment to God in all things. 4. Fill 
up leisure moments with useful thinking, and reading, and converse. 
5. Seize opportunities of doing good. .If you have time to visit the 
sick bed occasionally, or to do good in any way, you will thereby 
gain good in return, by the excitement of your own religious affec- 
tions. As to daily intercourse with others, the following rule is 
excellent : — 

" Present with God by recollection seem, 
Yet present by your cheerfulness with men." 

I am happy to have been any instrument of good to you by the 
blessing of God ; and it will give me additional pleasure to know that 
you " stand fast in the Lord." 

I write in the midst of a bustle ; for leisure I have little. The inter- 
lineations will show this ; and I have only time to add how truly, 

I am yours very affectionately. 

P. S. I regret that I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you at 
Warrington, or Liverpool, as I shall not be at either meeting. 

Great as was the liberality of the friends of the Methodist missions, 
it was exceeded by the zeal and enterprise of the managing commit- 
tee, who were so affected by the wants of the heathen, and the loud 
calls for help, that they exhausted the funds of the society, and placed 
the treasurers considerably in advance. In the month of January, 
therefore, it was found necessary to make an urgent appeal to the 
auxiliary societies in the country to renew their efforts in raising sup- 
plies. In this appeal it was stated, " There is a benevolence in the 
public mind, specially interested by missionary objects, which only 
needs an application and opportunity, in order to engage it in the work 
of Christ abroad. In this case, a few sacrifices of labour and time 
are all that is necessary to obtain for our missionary fund a supply, 


not only equal to our extended engagements, but which will encourage 
future efforts for the salvation of a world, yet but very partially visited, 
and which still exhibits its unhappy millions perishing for lack of 
knowledge. We commend these considerations to the attention of all 
who love the Lord Jesus. A calculation has been made, that if every 
member of the Methodist societies in England and Scotland only 
were to subscribe or collect for the missionary cause but one penny per 
week, a sum upward of £40,000 a year would be raised for the support 
of our missionaries. And surely this is not an extraordinary exertion 
in any place, when the larger sums of so many of our generous sub- 
scribers are taken into the estimate. Surely such an effort can bear 
little proportion to our personal obligations to Christ ; to our obligations 
to make the ' savour of his name manifest in every place.' Much more 
than this is already done in many districts ; and an equality of exer- 
tion through the whole connection appears to be demanded by equal 
obligations, equal ability, and an equal and laudable desire to share 
the honours of the zeal and devotion of the Churches for the cause of 
the common Saviour." 

An appeal somewhat similar to this was published in the beginning 
of May following, evidently the production of the same pen. After a 
summary account of the state and wants of the several stations occu- 
pied by the Wesleyan missionaries, the writer says, " And who is 
there that will not give his personal aid to swell the tide of that glo- 
rious and successful agency which is now, in so many directions, 
transmitting blessings to the nations of the earth, which, in their influ- 
ence, shall be felt through every future period of time, and reach into 
eternity itself?" 

To promote the pious and benevolent object for which these appeals 
were written, Messrs. Bunting and Watson made extensive tours in 
the north of England as the spring advanced. They attended the 
anniversaries of missionary societies at Liverpool, Manchester, Derby, 
Macclesfield, Wakefield, Hull, Sunderland, Shields, and Newcastle ; 
and found that the disposition to farther the good work remained 
unabated. Notwithstanding the pressure of the times, the subscrip- 
tions and collections generally exceeded those of any former year. — 
The meetings were numerously attended ; and great interest was 
excited by the details which these able advocates of the cause gave 
concerning the work of God in foreign countries. 

The annual meeting of the General Wesleyan Missionary Society 
was held in the City-Road chapel on Monday, May 3d. It was ex- 
cessively crowded, and Mr. Butterworth was called to the chair. — 
The union of so many persons of different denominations, which the 
platform presented, pleading the cause of missions to the pagan world, 
as the common cause of all Christians, was a sight most grateful to 
the feelings of Christian charity. Several friends from different parts 
of the kingdom were present, having come up to celebrate this annual 
festival, and kindle anew the fire of zeal at a common altar. These 
circumstances were important, as they showed that the great cause 
of the evangelization of the world had acquired a growing interest, 
and that energies more combined and glowing than formerly were put 
into activity for the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ. The day 
^ most delightful, and zeal for the glory of God, joy in the 


progress of truth, and compassion for a perishing world, were called 
into lively exercise. 

At this meeting it fell to the lot of Mr. Watson to second a reso- 
lution expressive of thanks to Sir Alexander Johnston, the late 
chief justise in Ceylon, for his kind service in behalf of the Methodist 
mission in that island. With respect to the mission in Ceylon, Mr. 
Watson observed, that all the missionaries then engaged in the work 
had given the utmost satisfaction to the committee ; and their prudent, 
diligent, and zealous conduct gave them a strong claim upon the sup- 
port of the Christian public. In reference to the resolution, he would 
say, it was a cheering consideration, that, when we turned to India, 
we saw a class of men rising up, whose talents, character, and influ- 
ence were all consecrated to the encouragement of religion. They 
lived at a great distance from home, and in a country where opposi- 
tion to religion would subject them to no reproach, and perhaps give 
them the praise of prudent politicians ; yet even there men were 
raised up by Providence, holding high official situations, both civil 
and military, sanctioning and encouraging the efforts which have been 
made for several years past, to disseminate the Scriptures, and to 
give the benighted heathen the benefits of the Christian ministry. In 
this honourable class the name of Sir Alexander Johnston occupied an 
eminent station. The island of Ceylon was specially indebted to his 
exertions. He was one of those gentlemen who had gone out, not 
merely to fill the seats of office, and to exercise authority, but to com- 
municate solid and permanent blessings to the people, to raise the con- 
dition of society, to establish moral order, to create religious principle, 
and to erect imperishable monuments of British power in the exercise 
of British compassion, and the communication of British intelligence. 
His wise and comprehensive views on these subjects were in con- 
nection with the principles of Christianity. He felt the importance 
of the labours of Christian missionaries, to raise the moral condition 
of the pagan population ; and the Wesleyan missionaries had found in 
him an adviser and a friend. To him a large class of slaves in the 
island were indebted for their liberty, voluntarily conceded by their 
masters, under his representations ; and to elevate minds rendered 
abject, and make their liberty a substantial benefit, he had been 
anxious that they should have the benefit of the exertions of missiona- 
ries, whose successes among the negroes in the West Indies were 
known by him, and justly appreciated. This society was under 
special obligations to Sir Alexander Johnston, for his frequent attend- 
ance at the meetings of the committee, for the purpose of giving 
information respecting the mission in Ceylon, and for his valuable 
advices. On these subjects Sir Alexander was always accessible ; 
and his opinions equally marked the philosopher, the philanthropist, 
and the Christian. 

At the conference of 1819, which was held in the city of Bristol, it 
was resolved to present an annual address to the Methodist societies, 
relating to subjects of general interest, and containing such advices and 
admonitions as circumstances might render necessary. The nation 
was then in an unsettled state ; political associations of the most mis- 
chievous character were formed in various places ; and strenuous 
attempts were made to engage religious people in plans of insubordi- 

206 life of The rev. richard watson. 

nation and riot. Mr. Watson was requested to write the first address ; 
and he executed this task in a manner worthy of himself, and of the 
occasion. In reference to the state of the country, and the duty of 
Christians in the existing state of things, the address says, " We deeply 
sympathize with those of you, dear brethren, who, from the pressure of 
the times, and the suspension of an active commerce, are, in common 
with thousands of your countrymen, involved in deep and various afflic- 
tions. We offer up our prayers to God for you in this dark season of 
your distresses, that you may not be tempted above what you are able 
to bear ; and that He who comforteth the distressed may comfort you. 
Cast all your care on God, ' for he careth for you ;' and fail not to re- 
member, and to comfort one another with these words, that in heaven 
you have a better and an enduring substance. In the present change- 
ful scene of things, one event happeneth to the righteous and the wicked ; 
but you are nevertheless still under the care and the eye of your Father 
in heaven. Such afflictive events he will sanctify to those who trust 
in him. His promises cannot fail, because he changeth not. He know- 
eth the way that you take ; and when he hath tried you, he will bring 
you forth as gold. Never fail, dear brethren, to commit your cause to 
Him, who has a thousand ways to ' deliver the godly out of temptation,' 
or to render their temptations the overruled instruments of putting them 
in possession of a good which shall remain their portion and their joy 
when their spirits shall be for ever beyond the reach of the joys and 
sorrows of this present state. ' In patience possess ye your souls.' — 
And remember Him who hath said, ' I will never leave you, nor forsake 

" As many of you to whom this measure of national suffering has 
been appointed reside in places where attempts are making, by ' un- 
reasonable and wicked men,' to render the privations of the poor ihe 
instruments of their own designs against the peace and government of 
our beloved country, we are affectionately anxious to guard all of you 
against being led astray from your civil and religious duties by their 
dangerous artifices. Remember you are Christians, and are called by 
your profession to exemplify the power and influence of religion by 
your patience in suffering, and by living peaceably with all men. Re- 
member you belong to a religious society which has, from the begin- 
ning, explicitly recognized as high and essential parts of Christian 
duty, to ' fear God, and honour the king ;' to submit to magistrates for 
conscience' sake, and not to speak evil of dignities. You are surrounded 
with persons to whom these duties are objects of contempt and ridicule. 
Show your regard for them, because they are the doctrines of your 
Saviour. Abhor those publications in which they are assailed, along 
with ever}' other doctrine of your holy religion ; and judge of the spirit 
and objects of those who would deceive you into political parties and 
associations, by the vices of their lives, and the infidel malignity of 
their words and writings. ' Who can bring a clean thing out of an 
unclean V 

" Be it your care, beloved, who are exposed to this trial, to serve 
God in all good conscience ; to preserve your minds from political 
agitations ; to follow your occupations and duties in life in peaceful 
seclusion from all strife and tumults ; and God will, in his own time, 
appear by his providence to your relief. We trust our country to 


his gracious favour, and doubt not that he will speak good concern- 
ing us. 

" While this period of suffering continues, we affectionately and 
earnestly exhort the more opulent members of our societies and con- 
gregations, to afford as ample a relief as possible to their brethren in 
distress. This, we are sure, they are forward to do. The liberal and 
active benevolence of our friends in every place, and on every charita- 
ble occasion, is our glory and joy. We speak this, therefore, merely 
to put them in remembrance. Many of the suffering household of faith 
now need their special liberalities ; and the kind affection which exists 
in all our societies toward each other is a sufficient pledge to us, that 
this suggestion will lead to those acts of sympathizing kindness, which 
will at once call forth and strengthen that sentiment of brotherly love, 
which is the distinguishing character of the disciples of Jesus Christ. 
' Remember them that are in affliction, as being yourselves also in the 

" We are about to depart to our respective scenes of labour for the 
ensuing year. We met in the spirit of the kindest affection, and are 
about to separate with increased attachment to each other, to you, and 
to the work of Christ. We have renewed our pledges of zeal and faith- 
fulness in the strength of Him without whom ' nothing is strong ;' and 
we cast ourselves on his mercy, and your prayers. Beloved brethren, 
join with us in this renewed dedication of ourselves to God, and to the 
Church by the will of God. Why do we live, but to do his will, and 
spread his praise ? Let all our thoughts rest in God. To him let us 
open our spirits for richer supplies of his sanctifying grace, and clearer 
demonstrations of his presence and love. In simplicity of heart let us 
follow our Lord, copy his example, walk as he walked, follow his steps 
of active charity, breathe his calm and loving mind, die like him to all 
earthly good, and hasten to the end of our course. ' The time is short.' 
O let us fill it with the fruits and acts of Christian love and zeal ; that 
our last moments may be peace ; and that through the meritorious 
passion of our Divine Saviour we may be accounted worthy to renew 
our fellowship in his unsuffering kingdom ; and be eternally one with 
Christ, as he is one with the Father !" 

These extracts will serve to show the spirit in which this seasona- 
ble document was written. It was extensively circulated by the con- 
ference, both in the minutes, and in a separate form ; and was also 
reprinted in Manchester, and widely distributed in that town and neigh- 
bourhood, just after the well-known riots there. Its influence upon the 
minds of the Methodist societies was deep ; and it contributed, in no 
small degree, to calm and restrain the agitated spirits of men in various 
places. Strong and persevering attempts were made by the agents of 
sedition to engage the co-operation of the Methodists in'their mischiev- 
ous and wicked projects ; but by this document, and other means, they 
were warned of their danger, and placed upon their guard ; and not a 
few of them laboured with zeal and determination, to resist the progress 
and influence of democratic politics, and to preserve the public tran- 
quillity. The annual addresses of the conference, thus favourably 
commenced, have been exceedingly beneficial in the Methodist con- 
nection. They have strengthened the bond of union between the con- 
ference and the societies ; and embody important pastoral advices, both 



in regard to personal religion, and the various branches of Christian 
duty. Several of them were drawn up by Mr. Watson, who excelled 
in this species of composition ; and those of them which were the 
product of his mind served greatly to give a character to the rest. 

As the Wesleyan missions continued rapidly to extend, and some of 
them were carried on under circumstances of difficulty, arising from 
the peculiar state of society, it was deemed requisite that a code of 
regulations should be prepared, to which every missionary, on enter- 
ing upon his work, should declare his assent, and his practical atten- 
tion to which should be a subject of annual inquiry at the several district 
meetings ; in order that the managing committee, and the supporters 
of the missions, might be satisfied that their agents kept steadily in view 
the design of their appointment, and pursued their labour upon a judi- 
cious and efficient plan. As early as December 18th, 1817, the com- 
mittee passed a resolution to this effect ; and Mr. Watson was requested 
to prepare the desired system of rules. With this request he complied; 
and produced a body of missionary instructions, equally distinguished 
by practical sense, and Christian piety. Some of them are exclusively 
applicable to missionaries ; but others of them are of general import- 
ance to Christian ministers. To the Wesleyan missions they have been 
of essential benefit. A copy bearing the date of 1818-1819 lies be- 
fore the writer, bearing the names of the committee and other officers 
of the society for that year. Whether these instructions had been 
previously printed, is uncertain. They underwent some verbal altera- 
tions, and other improvements, at a subsequent period. As this docu- 
ment shows the principles upon which the Wesleyan missions are 
conducted, and the spirit of apostolical piety with which Mr. Watson and 
his colleagues ever attempeu to animate them, it is here given entire. 
It is impossible that missions carried on in this manner should be un- 


I. We recommend you, in the first place and above all things, 
to pay due attention to your personal piety ; which, by prayer, self 
denial, holy diligence, and active faith in Him who loved you and gave 
himself for you, must be kept in a lively, vigoroiis, and growing state. 
Set before you constantly the example of the holy apostle : " This one 
thing I do ; forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth 
unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the 
prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus," Phil, iii, 13, 14. 
Amidst all your reading, studies, journeyings, preaching, and other 
labours, let the prosperity of your own souls in the Divine life be care- 
fully cultivated ; and then a spirit of piety will dispose you to the 
proper performance of your ministerial duties ; and by a holy reaction, 
such a discharge of duty will increase your personal religion. 

II. We wish to impress on. your minds the absolute necessity of 
using every means of mental improvement with an express view to 
your great work as Christian ministers. You are furnished with use- 
ful books, the works of men of distinguished learning and piety. We 
recommend to you to acquire an increase of that general knowledge 
which, if the handmaid of piety, will increase your qualifications for 
extensive usefulness. But more especially, we press upon you the 


absolute necessity of studying Christian divinity, the doctrines of sal- 
vation by the cross of Christ, " which things the angels desire to look 
into." They exercise their minds, which excel in strength, in the 
contemplation of those precious truths which you are called to explain 
and illustrate. Let all your reading and studies have a reference to 
this. You are to teach religion ; you must, therefore, understand re- 
ligion well. You are to disseminate the knowledge of Christianity, in 
order to the salvation of men ; let the Bible, then* be your book ; and 
let all other books be read only in order to obtain a better acquaintance 
with the Holy Scriptures, and a greater facility in explaining, illustrat- 
ing, and applying their important contents. We particularly recom- 
mend to you to read and digest the writings of Wesley and Fletcher, 
and the useful commentaries with which you are furnished, which are 
designed and calculated to increase your knowledge of the sacred 
volume. Like the Baptist, you must be "burning and shining lights ;" 
and, therefore, recollect every day, that while you endeavour by read- 
ing, meditation, and conversation, to increase your stock of useful 
knowledge, it is necessary for you to acquire a proportionate increase 
of holy fervour. 

III. We exhort you, brethren, to unity of affection, which will not 
fail to produce unity of action. Let your love be without dissimula- 
tion. In honour prefer one another. On this subject we beseech you 
to pay a practical regard to the advice of the venerable founder of our 
societies, the Rev. John Wesley. With his characteristic brevity, ho 
inquires, " What can be done in order to a closer union of our preach- 
ers with each other ? — Ans. ] . Let them be deeply convinced of the 
absolute necessity of it. 2. Let them pray for an earnest desire of 
union. 3. Let them speak freely to each other. 4. When they meet, 
let them never part without prayer. 5. Let them beware how they 
despise each other's gifts. 6. Let them never speak slightingly of each 
other in any kind. 7 Let them defend one another's character in 
every thing; to the utmost of their power. And 8. Let them labour in 
honour to prefer each the other before himself." 

IV Remember always, dear brethren, that you are by choice and 
on conviction Wesleyan Methodist preachers ; and, therefore, it is ex- 
pected and required of you, to act in all things in a way consistent 
with that character. In your manner of preaching, and of administer- 
ing the various ordinances of God's house, keep closely to the model 
exhibited by your brethren at home. Indeed,- you have solemnly 
pledged yourselves so to do. You have promised to preach, in the 
most explicit terms, the doctrines held as Scriptural, and therefore 
sacred, in the connection to which you belong. We advise, however, 
in so doing} that you avoid all appearance of controversy, in yoxw mode 
.of stating and enforcing Divine truths. While you firmly maintain that 
ground which we, as a body; have seen it right to take, cultivate a 
catholic spirit toward all your fellow labourers in the work of evan- 
gelizing the heathen 5 and aid them to the utmost of your power in 
their benevolent exertions. You have engaged also to pay a consci- 
entious regard to our discipline. We need not tell you, that all the 
parts of that discipline are of importance ; and that, taken together, 
they form a body of rules and usages, which appear to meet all the 
wants of individuals who are seeking the salvation of their souls ; and^ 
Vol. I. 14 


under the Divine influence and blessing, are calculated to promote the 
prosperity of every society. We also particularly press upon your 
constant attention and observance Mr. Wesley's Twelve Rules of a 

V We cannot omit, without neglecting our duty, to warn you against 
meddling with political parties, or secular disputes. You are teachers 
of religion ; and that alone should be kept in view. It is, however, a 
part of your duty, as ministers, to enforce by precept and example, a 
cheerful obedience to lawful authority. You know that the venerable 
Wesley was always distinguished by his love to his country, by his 
conscientious loyalty, and by his attachment to that illustrious family 
which has so long filled the throne of Great Britain. You know that 
your brethren at home are actuated by the same principles, and walk 
by the same rule ; and we have confidence in you, that you will pre- 
serve the same character of religious regard to good order, and submis- 
sion to " the powers that be ;" in which we glory. Our motto is, 
" Fear God, and honour the king ;" and we recollect who hath said, 
" Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey 
magistrates, to be ready to every good work." 

VI. You will, on a foreign station, find' yourselves in circumstances 
very different from those in which you are at home, with regard to 
those who are in authority under our gracious sovereign. It is proba- 
ble you will frequently come under their immediate notice and obser- 
vation. We are, however, persuaded, that while you demean your- 
selves as you ought, you will be generally favoured with their protection. 
On your arrival at your stations, you will be instructed what steps to 
take, in order to obtain the protection of the local governments : 
and we trust that your subsequent good behaviour toward governors, 
and all who are in authority, will be such as shall secure to you the 
enjoyment of liberty to instruct and promote the salvation of those to 
whom you are sent. 

VII. Those of you who are appointed to the West India colonies, — 
being placed in stations of considerable delicacy, and which require, 
from the state of society there, a peculiar circumspection and prudence 
on the one hand, and zeal, diligence, and patient perseverance, on the 
other, — are required to attend to the following directions, as specially 
applicable to your mission there : — 

1. Your particular designation is, to endeavour the religious instruc- 
tion and conversion of the ignorant, pagan, and neglected black and 
coloured population of the island, or station to which you may be ap- 
pointed, and of all others who may be willing to hear you. 

2. Where societies are already formed, you are required to watch 
over them with the fidelity of those who must give up their account to 
Him who hath purchased them with his blood, and in whose provi- 
dence they are placed under your care. Your labours must be con- 
stantly directed to improve them in the knowledge of Christianity, and 
to enforce upon them the experience and practice of its doctrines and 
duties, without intermingling doubtful controversies in your administra- 
tions, being mainly anxious that those over whom you have pastoral 
care should clearly understand the principal doctrines of the Scriptures, 
feel their renovating influence upon their hearts, and become " holy in 
all manner of conversation and godliness." And in order to this, we 


recommend that your sermons should consist chiefly of clear exposi- 
tions of the most important truths of holy writ,- enforced with affection 
and fervour on the consciences and conduct of them that hear you ; 
that you frequently and familiarly explain portions of the Scriptures ; 
and that, as extensively as you possibly can* you introduce the 
method of teaching children, and the less instructed of the adult 
slaves and others, by the excellent catechisms with which you are 

3. It is enforced Upon you, that you continue no person as a member 
of your societies, whose " conversation is not as becometh the Gospel 
of Christ." That any member of society who may relapse into his 
former habits, and become a polygamist, or an adulterer, who shall be 
idle and disorderly, disobedient to his owner (if a slave,) who shall 
steal, or be in any other way immoral or irreligious, shall be put away, 
after due admonition, and proper attempts to reclaim him from the 
" error of his way." 

4. Before you receive any person into society, you shall be satisfied 
of his desire to become acquainted with the religion of Christ, and to 
obey it ; and if he has not previously been under Christian instruction, 
nor baptized, you are, before his admission as a member, diligently to 
teach him the Christian faith, and the obligations which he takes upon 
himself by baptism ; so as to be assured of his having obtained such 
knowledge of the principles of religion, and such belief of them, as to 
warrant you to administer to him that ordinance. Beside this, no 
person is to be admitted into society, without being placed first on trial, 
for such time as shall be sufficient to prove whether his conduct has 
been reformed, and that he has wholly renounced all those vices to 
which he may have been before addicted; 

5. You are to consider the children of the negroes and coloured peo- 
ple of your societies and congregations as a part of your charge ; and 
it is recommended to you, wherever it is practicable and prudent, to 
establish Sunday or other schools for their instruction. It is to be 
considered by you as a very important part of your duty as a mission- 
ary, to catechise them as often as you conveniently can, at stated 
periods ; and to give your utmost aid to their being brought up in 
Christian knowledge, and in industrious and moral habits. 

6. As in the colonies in which you are called to labour, a great pro- 
portion of the inhabitants are in a state of slaveiy, the committee most 
strongly call to your recollection what was so fully stated to you when 
you were accepted as a missionary to the West Indies, that your only 
business is to promote the moral and religious improvement of the 
slaves to Whom you may have access, without in the least degree, in 
public or private, interfering with their civil condition. On all persons, 
in the state of slaves, you are diligently and implicitly to enforce the 
same exhortations which the apostles of our Lord administered to the 
slaves of ancient nations, when by their ministry they embraced Chris- 
tianity : — " Servants, be obedient to them that are yourmasters according 
to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as 
unto Christ ; not with eye service, as men pleasers ; but as the servants 
of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart ; with good will doing 
service, as to the Lord, and not to men : knowing that whatsoever good 
thing any man doeth, the same shall ho receive of the Lord, whether 


he be bond or free," Eph. vi, 5-8. " Servants, obey in all things your 
masters according to the flesh ; not with eye service, as men pleasers ; 
but in singleness of heart, fearing God : and whatsoever ye do, do it 
heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men ; knowing that of the Lord 
ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance : for ye serve the Lord 
Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he 
hath done : and there is no respect of persons," Col. iii, 22-25. 

7 You are directed to avail yourselves of every opportunity to extend 
your labours among the slaves of the islands where you may be station- 
ed ; but you are in no case to visit the slaves of any plantation without 
the permission of the owner or manager ; nor are the times which you 
may appoint for their religious services to interfere with their owner's 
employ ; nor are you to suffer any protracted meetings in the evening, 
not even at negro burials, on any account whatever. In all these cases 
you are to meet even unreasonable prejudices, and attempt to disarm 
suspicions, however groundless, so far as you can do it consistently 
with your duties as faithful and laborious ministers of the Gospel. 

8. As many of the negroes live in a state of polygamy, or in a pro- 
miscuous intercourse of the sexes, your particular exertions are to be 
directed to the discountenancing and correcting of these vices, by point- 
ing out their evil, both in public and in private, and by maintaining the 
strictest discipline in the societies. No man living in a state of polyg- 
amy is to be admitted a member, or even on trial, who will not consent 
to live with one woman as his wife, to whom you shall join him in 
matrimony, or ascertain that this rite has been performed by some other 
minister ; and the same rule is to be applied, in the same manner, to 
a woman proposing to become a member of society. No female living 
m a state of concubinage with any person is to be admitted into society 
so long as she continues in that sin. 

9. The committee caution you against engaging in any of the civil 
disputes or local politics of the colony to which you may be appointed, 
either verbally, or by correspondence with any persons at home, or in 
the colonies. The whole period of your temporary residence in the 
West Indies is to be filled up with the proper work of your mission. — 
You are not to become parties in any civil quarrel ; but are to " please 
all men for their good to edification ;" intent upon the solemn work of 
your office, and upon that eternal state in the views of which the com- 
mittee trust you will ever think and act. 

10. In cases of opposition to your ministry, which may arise on the 
part of individuals, or of any of the colonial legislatures, a meek and 
patient spirit and conduct are recommended to you. You will in 
particular guard against all angry and resentful speeches, and in no 
case attempt to inflame your societies and hearers with resentment 
against your persecutors or opposers. Your business, in such cases, 
after every prudent means of obtaining relief has failed in your own 
hands, is with the committee at home ; who will immediately take such 
steps as may secure to you that protection, from a mild and tolerant 
government, which they hope your peaceable and pious conduct, your 
labours and successes, will ever merit for you. 

N. B. The directions to the West India missionaries are also to be 
considered as strictly obligatory on all others, as far as they are appli- 
cable to the circumstances of their respective stations. 


VIII. It is peremptorily required of every missionary in our connec- 
tion to keep a journal, and to send home frequently such copious 
abstracts of it as may give a full and particular account of his labours, 
success, and prospects. He is also required to give such details of a 
religious kind as may be generally interesting to the friends of missions 
at home ; particularly, accounts of conversions. Only, we recommend 
to you, not to allow yourselves, under the influence of religious joy, to 
give any high colouring of facts ; but always write such accounts as 
you would not object to see return in print to the place where the facts 
reported may have occurred. 

IX. It is a positive rule among the Wesleyan Methodists, that no 
travelling preacher shall " follow trade." You are to consider this rule 
as binding upon you, and all foreign missionaries in our connection. 
We wish you to be at the remotest distance from all temptation to a 
secular or mercenary temper. " No man that warreth entangleth him- 
self with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath called 
him to be a soldier." Independently of the moral and religious con- 
siderations which enforce this principle, we here take occasion to 
remind you, that all your time and energies should be the more sacredly 
devoted to the duties of your mission, because the committee feel them- 
selves fully pledged to pay an affectionate attention to all your wants, 
and to afford them every reasonable and necessary supply. And this 
pledge, they doubt not, the generosity of the friends of missions will, 
from time to time, enable them to redeem, so long as you continue to 
regulate your expenses by as much of conscientious regard to economy, 
as may be found to consist with your health and comfort, and with the 
real demands of the work of God. 

And now, brethren, we commend you to God and the word of his 
grace. We unite with tens of thousands in fervent prayer to God for 
you. May he open to you a great door and effectual ; and make you, 
immediately or remotely, the instruments of the salvation of myriads. 
We shall incessantly pray, that " you may go out with joy, and be led 
forth with peace ; that instead of the thorn may come up the fir tree, 
and instead of the brier the myrtle tree ; and it shall be to the Lord for 
a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." " Blessed 
be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things ; 
and blessed be his glorious name for ever ; and let the whole earth be 
filled with his glory : Amen and Amen." 

The first report of the General Chapel Fund was printed in the 
autumn of 1819, and was put into extensive circulation. It was written 
by Mr. Watson, and contains many passages of permanent value, 
especially in reference to the erection of places of worship, and their 
freedom from pecuniary embarrassment. The following paragraphs 
are well worthy of preservation :-r- 

" One of the greatest of human charities is the erection and support 
of places for the public worship of God ; and in every age of the Church 
piety toward God, and religious benevolence to man, have, by such 
erections, set up the noblest monuments of their power and purity. — 
The blessedness of such acts has descended upon us. Under roofs 
reared by other hands we first drew the breath of spiritual life ; and 
the first time we came in simplicity and contrition to the footstool of 


God in his public ordinances, we bowed at altars built by the generous 
piety of persons precedent to ourselves in religious experience ; and 
who, having lived not to themselves, but to God, and his cause on 
earth, have passed through the courts of earthly temples into the man- 
sions of rest and glory in heaven. It would ill become us to take the 
fruits of their piety, without being also the imitators of their zeal. — 
The work which they begun is not completed. The want of places 
of worship in this country, though so eminent in its religious character, 
is by all parties of Christians acknowledged. The population has 
greatly enlarged beyond the measure of the accommodation for the 
public services of religion ; and as the preaching of the Gospel is made 
successful in bringing men under the influence of holy and devotional 
habits, the erection and enlargement of places of worship will be still 
demanded by the necessity of the case. It is a charity inseparably 
connected with the existence, the exercise, and the extension of reli- 

" The great work which God has been pleased to perform in this 
land by the instrumentality of the body to which we belong has na- 
turally led to the erection of numerous places of worship. Religious 
societies have been formed of persons fearing God, and working right- 
eousness ; the ministry by which their conversion at first took place 
has been continued and enlarged by Him who alone can perpetuate a 
spiritual and true administration of his word ; a disposition to hear the 
word of God, and to hallow his Sabbaths by acts of public devotion, 
has been greatly diffused in places where no such inclination existed j 
and a very great number of chapels have, in consequence, been ren- 
dered necessary. The exclamation of the prophet, ' What hath God 
wrought !' was often appropriately used by the great founder of our 
societies, when reflecting upon the progress of true religion in this 
land by his instrumentality, and by those who served him as sons in 
the Gospel. It may be used now with greater emphasis, and with 
stronger emotion. In by far the greater number of towns in this king- 
dom, large and commodious chapels have been erected, and are statedly 
filled with hearers ; while innumerable villages, regularly visited by 
the preachers, are the seats of pious societies, bearing their constant 
testimony for God among their neighbours, in which the accommoda- 
tions for worship are various, — dwelling houses and rooms chiefly, — 
but in many are chapels, of dimensions varying with the population, 
and the good effected. These are facts which call for no ordinary 
feelings of joy and gratitude, connected as they are with the cause of 
Christ, and the salvation of souls. In these religious societies and 
houses of prayer, how many have been trained and disciplined for hea- 
ven, and have already entered into the joy of their Lord, shall be known 
in the day of the revelation of Jesus Christ ; but in all a ' truth accord- 
ing to godliness' is constantly preached, a spiritual worship is offered, 
and wanderers from peace and righteousness are constantly reclaiming 
from the error of their way. In many of them are conducted various 
institutions, — schools, benevolent societies, &c, — connected with the 
present and future interests of men ; and thus religious truth and influ- 
ence are preserved and extended in society. These are reflections 
equally cheering to piety, to philanthropy, and to patriotism : to piety, 
as the cause of true religion is upheld and promoted ; to philanthropy, 


as vice and misery are counteracted and assuaged ; and to patriotism, 
as morality, industry, probity, and peace are the necessary results of 
this spread of true religion, and the inculcation of a holy doctrine in 
our native land. 

" When the immense number of chapels belonging to the Methodist 
societies is considered, all of which have been in part raised by volun- 
tary subscriptions, it is not easy to do justice to the liberality of a 
people who, notwithstanding such exertions, are far from affluent. — 
But with so much success to encourage them, and animated as they 
are, generally, with no ordinary degree of zeal for the extension of the 
cause of Christ, it is not surprising that in several instances this high 
and holy principle should have gone somewhat beyond the bounds of 
prudent expenditure in the erection of chapels, and involved some of 
the societies in embarrassments. This is the fact ; and it has arisen 
from various causes. The usual method of erecting chapels among 
us, by raising part of the money by private subscription, and borrowing 
the remainder on the security of the trustees, the interest being left to 
be provided for by the pew rents and collections, has been favourable 
to the increase of chapels ; but is a system which, with all its excel- 
lencies, requires calculations as to the future, which zeal is apt to 
overlook. In some cases, therefore, the chapels have been built too 
large ; in others a want of judgment has led to an unanticipated ex- 
pense ; and in some the trustees have been misled, by builders and 
others, into expenditures, the extent of which they only became ac- 
quainted with when too late. Embarrassments have also arisen, in 
many cases, from causes over which human power has no control ; 
from decay of trade, from diminution of population, from the death or 
removal of principal friends, or from that interruption in the growth of 
societies to which all religious bodies are in some degree subject. It 
has followed, therefore, that, though by the blessing of God upon the 
connection generally, the majority of its chapels are in prosperous, in 
easy, or in tolerable circumstances, a considerable number of them have 
been, for several years, in difficulties equally alarming to the trustees, 
and distressing to the societies and the preachers. To relief the trus- 
tees were entitled. The responsibilities they had entered into were 
not in the view of any private interest. They had been influenced 
only by their regard for the cause of God, to place themselves under 
the burden. The societies, as parts of the whole connection, were 
equally entitled to have that pressure relieved, as far as it had become 
excessive, which necessarily fell upon them in the form of extra sub- 
scriptions and collections, most generously offered, and persevered in 
with great constancy, without, however, in many instances, conquering 
or reducing the distress. 

" Perhaps it is not easy to fix upon a case more truly worthy of 
Christian sympathy and kind assistance, than that of a chapel deeply 
involved in debt. The anxiety of trustees for themselves and families, 
— the burdens constantly laid upon societies and congregations, pre- 
venting often the increase of both, and thereby pressing down the growth 
of that natural aid which every chapel is supposed to contain within 
itself, — the perplexities and complaints in which ministers are involved, 
rendering the places of their labour irksome to them during their stay, 
and abating that satisfied and home feeling which is so essential to the 


spiritual and vigorous discharge of their duties, — rand, to crown all, the 
debates, and want of union and attention to the spiritual concerns of 
societies, which are produced among the leading friends and officers 
of a society so circumstanced : these evils will be amply and effectually 
removed by the maintenance of the chapel fund, and the relief it will 
afford. Opportunity will be given to infant societies to strengthen 
themselves ; the confidence of trustees will be felt by congregations ; 
union will be promoted ; the ministry exercised with much greater 
comfort and success ; and hope, the animating principle of exertion, be 
then a rational and salutary feeling, and spread an enlivening influence 
over ministers and trustees, over societies and congregations. 

" To any exceptions which may be taken, as to the imprudence with 
which some chapels have been erected, and the expensiveness of 
others, we may §ay, that these objections lie not against the majority 
of the cases ; and that where they do lie, there is, the plea of the best 
intentions, though there have been mistakes of judgment. Let us not 
in these considerations forget that we are brethren ; that the connection 
is but one ; and if it has suffered in some instances by too sanguine a 
spirit of enterprise, in many more has the blessed work of our Re- 
deemer among men been enlarged by it. If it has involved some few 
places in temporary difficulties, it has in great numbers created con- 
gregations which had never been otherwise collected, and given 
unnumbered souls to the Church and to the Saviour. In the cases of 
those of our chapels most embarrassed, there is much to expect. They 
are in large towns, in populous neighbourhoods, several of them have 
increasing congregations ; and we doubt not but that many whose zeal 
outstepped a little the bounds of prudence, in the magnitude given to 
them, will live to forget the anxieties that circumstance has caused 
them, in the permanent good which will ultimately be effected. 

" Very reasonable expectations of the increase of the chapel fund 
by legacies have been indulged. A number of benevolent friends have, 
at different times, left legacies to individual chapels ; and it is hoped 
that a general fund, whose object is to keep open many places of wor- 
ship which, but for such aid, must be disposed of, will be a sufficient 
motive to induce such pious remembrances and cares for the work of 
God on earth, by many who shall, from time to time, pass from the 
earthly dwellings of the Lord of hosts into his celestial temple." 

Such were the generous sentiments entertained and promulgated 
by Mr. AVatson in regard to the relief of embarrassed chapels. They 
are as applicable in the present day as they were when first commit- 
ted to the press ; and are happily now more widely diffused in the 
Methodist connection, and more fully carried into practical effect, 
than at any former period. Mr. Watson did not live to see the 
splendid arrangements now in operation for the removal of that hinder- 
ance to the work of God which arises from the pressure of pecuniary 
burdens upon places of worship ; but no man was more deeply inte- 
rested in this branch of Christian charity than he. When requested 
to lend the aid of his talents, by preaching at the anniversaries of 
embarrassed chapels, he generally yielded a willing compliance 
whenever his health and other engagements would allow; and he be- 
came a subscriber to the chapel fund as soon as it was instituted, and 
cheerfully continued his contributions to the end qf his life. 



Missionary Report for the Year 1819 — Letter to Mr. Garbutt — Mr. Watson 
visits Cornwall, accompanied by Mr. Bunting — Mission in Southern Africa — 
Anniversary of the Missionary Society in the Year 1820 — Letter to Mr. Walton 

Conference of 1820 — Visit of Mr. Emory, from America — Pastoral Address to 

the Methodist Societies — Mr. Watson's Appointment a third Year to the London 
West Circuit — PJis Correspondence with the Missionaries — Letter to the Rev. 
William D. Goy, 

While Mr. Watson was ready for every good work, it was to the 
missionary department that his attention was specially directed ; and 
its regular advancement was to him a source of solid gratification.- — ■ 
At the conclusion of the year 1819 he sent forth into the world his 
fourth missionary report, the details of which possessed an increased 
interest; and the appeals at the conclusion were equal in eloquence 
and power to any of his former addresses to the subscribers. In the 
course of the year seventeen missionaries were sent abroad ; seven 
of whom were appointed to the West Indies, one to Gibraltar, two to 
Western Africa, one to Southern Africa, five to Ceylon, and one to 
Bombay. The total number of missionaries actually employed under 
the direction of the conference was then one hundred and twenty ; and 
the report stated that, to fill up the places of some missionaries who 
had returned home, and of others who had died in the work, to supply 
additional labourers where the cause was extending, and new stations 
to which pressing invitations had been given, the committee were 
about to send six missionaries to Asia, ten to the West Indies, two to 
Africa, and six to the British American colonies ; making the whole 
number of Wesleyan missionaries, including three assistant mis- 
sionaries in Ceylon, and one in Southern Africa, one hundred and 
forty-four. To meet so large an expenditure as these extended ope- 
rations required, the sum of £22,913. 9s. lid. had been transmitted 
to the treasurers in the course of the year; exceeding the income of the 
society in any preceding year by £4,479. 18s. 6id. 

With respect to the state of the funds, and the obligations and pros- 
pects of the society, the report says, " For the support of so large a 
missionary establishment, persevering exertions are evidently neces- 
sary ; and when it is considered that the extension of this great work 
has been engaged in by the committee in consequence of the most 
pressing solicitations from different parts of the earth, where oppor- 
tunities have been providentially afforded to apply the great remedy 
of evangelical truth to the moral disorders of a wretched world, the 
committee caimot but depend with confidence upon the sympathy and 
piety of the public to enable them to meet an expenditure which has 
been induced by considerations so urgent, and which is enlarging 
beyond the receipts of the year, though so honourable to Christian 
benevolence, and by far the most productive year we have witnessed. 
Can we see the immortal souls of men in danger of eternal death, 
and not attempt their rescue? Can we contemplate regions where 
Lhnst is not named, and not attempt to make him known ? Can we 
hear the voice of misery pleading for help, and refuse the boon? 
Animated by past success, and encouraged by the promises of Hea- 


ven, it is not possible, as long as pity for men, love for Christ, and 
jealousy for the honours of God, are the energetic principles of a heart 
influenced by the everlasting love of Jesus our Redeemer, to refuse 
any sacrifice in order to afford the aid by which a cause so glorious, 
so connected with the happiness of the world, and the exaltation of 
the Church, can be promoted. The field widens before us; but, 
wherever it is cultivated, it yields abundant fruit, and will encourage 
the toil of future labour. The first fruits are reaped ; the ' wave 
offering' is already presented before ' the Lord of the harvest,' in his 
sanctuary ; but the full blessing is yet ungathered. ' The field is the 
world ;' and already the zeal and love of Christians spread, in delight- 
ful anticipation, into all its length and breath. To the great and 
growing but encouraging work we are again summoned. It brings its 
present reward in the miseries it assuages or removes ; in the ele- 
ments of order and happiness it creates and combines ; in the personal 
and social felicities it confers. But it runs on to a sublimer consum- 
mation. It is connected with purposes which the wisdom of God has 
arranged, which his goodness has nurtured and upheld, and which his 
power will ultimately execute to the height of the sublime idea : pur- 
poses, whose accomplishment supported the Saviour in his agony and 
bloody sweat, in his cross and passion ; on which the eye of pro- 
phets, ranging through the scenes of the future, fixed with greatest 
intensity of observation ; and the prospect of which has supported the 
hopes of martyrs and confessors, of ministers and missionaries, of the 
wise and good in all ages. ' Am* the end cometh.' The astonish- 
ing operations of God, both in providence, and in the administration 
of the kingdom of Christ, display the signs of the glory of the latter 
day. ' The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the sight of all 
the nations ; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of 
our God.' " 

It is added, in reference to the increase of the contributions : " For 
this encouraging increase the society is indebted to the efforts of 
many individuals throughout the kingdom, who have laboured with 
most creditable perseverance to bring the cause of missions before the 
public, and to excite its liberality. Its interests have been very emi- 
nently promoted by the zeal of many excellent ladies, who, both in 
connection with general societies, and in ladies' associations, have 
consecrated their time and influence to this sacred cause. The funds 
have also received great assistance from several very active and 
efficient juvenile societies, where the energy of youth, and the sym- 
pathy of hearts early imbued witli Christian philanthropy and piety, 
have united to produce and support a very successful activity in 
behalf of missions to the heathen. The committee offer their most 
cordial thanks to all those individuals and societies ; and while they 
congratulate them on their past successes, they earnestly solicit from 
them the aid of their continued exertions. It has already been stated, 
that the missions are now so numerous, that the present contributions, 
though so much enlarged, will be unequal to their full support ; and 
this consideration the committee trust will be felt as a powerful call to 
perseverance and activity. In numerous places missionary societies 
may yet be established with success ; and in others they are capable 
of an extended operation. Where active collectors can be engaged, 


experience has sufficiently proved that there are persons in every 
place who so love the Lord Jesus, and desire the extension of his 
kingdom, that when missionary intelligence is circulated among them, 
and their attention called to the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ 
among the heathen, they will, with readiness of spirit, make their 
regular contributions for purposes for which they daily pray, and 
which make an appeal so animated and efficient to those high and 
holy feelings which burn in the bosom of every true disciple of Him, 
who came ' to seek and to save that which was lost.' " 

The following passage shows the spirit of fraternal affection which 
Mr. Watson, and those who were associated with him in the manage- 
ment of the Methodist missions, cherished toward their fellow labourers 
in the same cause of other denominations : — " In this great work they 
feel themselves in pleasing and harmonious co-operation with similar 
institutions, conducted by other religious denominations, in whose suc- 
cesses in their respective fields of labour, they greatly rejoice ; and 
for whose future triumphs over the ignorance and wretchedness of the 
world they offer their unfeigned prayers. Happy for the world, happy 
for Christianity, when the time shall arrive when every Church of 
Christ on earth shall give its full energy to the accomplishment of the 
gracious purposes of the Saviour toward the fallen race whom he has 
redeemed with his most precious blood ; and when, like the Churches 
of primitive times, ' walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the com- 
fort of the Holy Ghost,' they shall be ' multiplied' by the conversion 
of the heathen of every nation under heaven to the love and worship 
of Jesus Christ, who is ' over all, God blessed for ever.' " 

While Mr. Watson thus availed himself of the publication of the 
annual missionary report to plead the cause of the heathen M'orld, he 
was equally ready to advocate the same cause both from the pulpit 
and the platform ; and the commencement of the year 1 820 found him 
making extensive arrangements for services of this description. The 
following letter contains some notices of his plans. It was an answer 
to an invitation from his friends in Hull, who wished to be favoured 
with his assistance at their missionary anniversary ; and was addressed 

To Mr. Robert Garbutt. 

Mission House, Feb. 10th, 1820. 

My Dear Friend, — Mr. Bunting and I are going through Cornwall 
this month, and through Norfolk in April, and shall not, therefore, take 
a northern tour. We are, however, making arrangements for Mr. Har- 
vard to attend several of the northern meetings ; and you will be soon 
written to for the purpose of knowing whether you wish your meeting 
to be connected with the rest of the chain. In that case he will visit 
you ; and you may get some neighbouring preachers to meet him. 

I thank you for your kind invitation; and had I been coming near, 
nothing would have given me greater pleasure than to have seen my 
ever-respected and never-to-be-forgotten friends in Hull, whom I never 
think of without the warmest affection. 

Wishing you all prosperity, but especially the blessing of the Lord, 
which only " maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow," with " grace, mercy, 
and peace," I am, my dear friend, 

Yours, as ever, truly. 


The result of the journey into Cornwall, here mentioned by Mr. 
Watson, is stated in a letter written by the Rev. Richard Treffry, 
dated Truro, March 10th, 1820 ; in which it is said, " In the course 
of the last month, the Rev. Messrs. Bunting and Watson, two of the 
general secretaries of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, paid a visit 
to Cornwall ; where, beside preaching in the principal places, in the 
different circuits of that district, they held public meetings in Penzance, 
Camborne, Helston, Falmouth, and Truro. Never was there a greater 
interest excited among the religious part of the inhabitants of that 
county, than on these occasions ; and though the meetings were con- 
tinued from five to six hours,' and the chapels uncommonly crowded, 
yet the people gladly continued to the end. Colonel Sandys, who 
favoured the meetings with his presence, and ably filled the chair, gave 
affecting details of the superstitions of India, of which he had been an 
eye witness ; and the Rev, William Davies, who has been a mission- 
ary to Sierra Leone, arrested the attention of the people in an unusual 
maimer with lively descriptions of the superstitions of Africa, and 
the dark and degraded state of its wretched inhabitants, Beside the 
public collections, which were more liberal than were ever remembered 
in Cornwall, we confidently expect, from the more regular organization 
of an auxiliary society for that district, and branch societies for the 
several circuits, that the missionary fund will receive considerable 
assistance." Messrs. Bunting and Watson expressed themselves as 
highly gratified with their Cornish tour ; and especially with the co- 
operation of Colonel Sandys, Joseph Came, E sc h and the Rev. Messrs. 
Treffry, Truscott, Davies, and the other preachers. The Cornish 
Methodists exemplified the motto of their county ; and came forward, 
" one and all," to assist in sending the Gospel to the heathen. 

At this time the Wesleyan mission in Southern Africa began to 
assume an aspect and character of superior interest. A few years 
before, Mr. Barnabas Shaw had been sent to Cape-Town; but not be- 
ing allowed to exercise his ministry there, he had penetrated into the 
interior of the country, carrying the truth of God to the savage tribes, 
accompanied by his excellent wife, who even rivalled her husband 
in zeal, self denial, and enterprise. Messrs. Edward Edwards and 
James Archbell had been sent to his assistance in Little Namacqua- 
land ; and Jacob Links, an intelligent converted Hottentot, had been 
raised up, as the fruit of missionary exertion, and exercised an effi- 
cient native ministry. He was afterward basely murdered, with his 
fellow traveller, Mr. Threlfall, when they were on their way to explore 
new fields of missionary labour. 

Early in the year 1820 Mr. William Shaw embarked for that colony, 
under the direct sanction of his majesty's government. A considerable 
number of emigrants were about to form a settlement in a tract of 
country bordering upon the Kaffer tribes ; and the government proposed 
to advance the sum of .£75 per annum, for the support of a minister in 
connection with a given number of settlers, leaving it to the parties 
themselves to choose their own spiritual guide. Among the emigrants 
were several Methodist families, sufficiently numerous to entitle them 
to the allowance in question. They therefore applied to the committee 
of the Wesleyan Missionary Society for a suitable minister ; and Mr. 
William Shaw was appointed, with the understanding, that if he should 


at any future time be removed to another station* his place should be 
supplied by the committee. Such was the state of things when Mr. 
Watson published the following account in the Missionary Notices for 
February, 1820 : — " Mr. and Mrs. Shaw are only waiting the breaking 
up of the ice in the river, to proceed with the colonists who are to 
settle not far from Algoa Bay. The whole number of settlers from 
different parts* now on their voyage, or about to proceed to this settle- 
ment, is probably more than three thousand. The introduction of so 
great a number of professed Christians, comprising many who we trust 
are really so, and who will have the ordinances of religion immediately 
established among them, into a heathen land, we cannot but consider 
as one of those circumstances which Providence in the present day is 
so obviously overruling, for the purpose of extending the kingdom of 
Christ in the world. The colony will be in the immediate neighbour- 
hood of the Kaffers, whose wild habits, if these colonists conduct them- 
selves with justice and kindness in their intercourse with them, will be 
rapidly ameliorated. The spectacle of civilized life, and the benefits 
arising from industry and cultivation at the very door of these tribes, 
will give encouragement to those of their chiefs who have been best 
disposed to change the habits of their people, to renew the attempt ; 
and the zeal of many of the colonists, we doubt not, will induce them 
to embrace every opportunity to communicate to such of the natives 
as come within their reach, the knowledge' of the Gospel. It is a very 
hopeful circumstance, connected with the probable extension which 
may be given to Christianity by the establishment of these colonies, 
that many of the persons going out are not only of a religious charac- 
ter, but in this country have been members of missionary societies, 
and accustomed to hear stated from the pulpit, and in public meetings, 
the obligations of Christians to promote the conversion of the heathen. 
With these views and impressions many of them will go out ; and the 
colonies, as they rise, will furnish both means and instruments for 
taking their proper share in this great work. Colonists in former 
times have too frequently commenced with a contempt for the savage 
tribes in whose neighbourhood they have been settled, which has led, 
not merely to the neglect of their instruction, but to acts of injury and 
violence. We trust that sentiments of love and pity for the heathen 
are felt by many of the colonists now going to South Africa ; that 
they will be taught to their children ; and thp,t, from their settlements, 
the light and influence of Christianity may spread to many of the 
tribes who lie upon their borders. Mr. William Shaw has special 
instructions to avail himself of every opportunity which may offer for 
this purpose ; and should favourable circumstances occur, the mission 
in that part of South Africa will be reinforced. From the Namacqua 
country our accounts are very interesting. Mr. Shaw and Mr. 
Edwards are at Lilly Fountain ; Mr. and Mrs. Archbell are gone to 
Keed Ponteine, a new settlement, about two days' journey distant 
from the former, where they have collected about one hundred natives ; 
among whom, with the religion of Christ, the useful arts will be intro- 
duced. Mr Shaw intended shortly to proceed beyond the Orange 
Kiver, for the purpose of forming a third settlement, having been 
encouraged by a correspondence with Mr. Schmelen on the subject, 
and by conversation with Hottentots from that quarter. Mr. Shaw is 


also now hopeful as to the probability of obtaining access for a missiorf- 
ary to the negro slaves of the colony. The committee, under alf these 
circumstances, have resolved to appoint an additional missionary for 
South Africa, who is to proceed to Namacqualand, that by his assistance 
Mr. Shaw may be able to proceed to the Orange River ; or attempt to 
effect an opening to the colonial slaves, and in any other way endea- 
vour to extend the kingdom of God in this too long neglected part of 
the globe. Surely the time of the efficient visitation of the dark and 
degraded continent of Africa is come. The work, commenced on 
the south and west, will, if persevered in, and supported by the 
prayers and liberalities of the Christian world, gradually spread 
northward and eastward, until ' Ethiopia shall stretch out her hands 
unto God.'*' 

This became a favourite mission with Mr. Watson ; and he lived 
till his anticipations concerning it, as they are here expressed, were 
realized to a great extent. On the 22d of March Mr. and Mrs. Kay 
left London for Gravesend, to embark for Little Namacqualand, where 
a mission had been so auspiciously commenced. Before their depar- 
ture, Mr. Watson said, with a feeling never to be forgotten, " Mr. 
Kay, were I as young as you, Africa should be the field of my 
choice." Having fulfilled his term of service, Mr. Kay has returned 
to England, and has recently published a work replete with curious 
and interesting information, on the rise and progress of the settlement 
just mentioned, the habits and manners of the Kaffers, and the pro- 
gress of religion and civilization among that once barbarous and 
savage people. It is one of the most instructive missionary publica- 
tions the age has produced ; and shows in a very striking light the 
influence of Chris) ianity in giving a right direction to infant colonies, 
and in raising the most degraded tribos to the enjoyments of civilized 
life, and the hopes of a blessed immortality. 

The annual meeting of the Wesleyan Missionary Society was held 
in the City-Road chapel on the first of May ; Mr. Butterworth was in 
the chair ; and the attendance, as usual, very great. A remarkably 
fine and hallowed tone was given to this meeting by one of the prepa- 
ratory sermons, preached by the Rev. William Ward, one of the 
Baptist missionaries from Serampore, on the necessity of Divine 
influence in order to the success of missionary operations. In ac- 
knowledging the vote of thanks to the secretaries, which the meeting 
adopted, Mr. Watson said that he had lately had the pleasure of wit- 
nessing other meetings, some as large as that before him, animated 
by the same spirit of benevolence toward the heathen world, and 
desirous of extending the victories of the Redeemer. This was 
encouraging ; for why did God diffuse this spirit through the land, if 
he had not some mighty work to perform ? And if this feeling be of 
God, we may safely argue that it is the intention of the Lord to 
spread the knowledge of his truth, and speedily to bring the nations 
of the earth into his fold. He viewed the kind assistance rendered 
by ministers of different denominations as very encouraging. This 
approximation of Christians to each other was a most hopeful circum- 
stance ; and would give to Christianity a very decided superiority in 
the world. Heathens themselves must be constrained to acknowledge, 
when the Gospel is sent to them, " This is the result of the love of 


God, which is so conspicuous in all the meetings of the Christians." 
It was one effect of the Bible society, that it spread a common ground 
upon which all might meet without compromising their respective 
sentiments. Still there remained a vacancy ; for each society carried 
on its missionary meetings with its own ministers. But Why could 
not the missionary platform be the common ground ? It had been 
said that when they met in the Bible society, there was no sacrificing 
of principle ; and he would be glad to know what principle they sacri- 
ficed there that day. Was not their common Christianity one grand 
and public benefit ? If they were sincere, they would be glad of all 
the help they could get ; and on what individual soever they saw the 
spirit of their Master descend, they would heartily wish the blessing 
of the Lord to rest upon him. Mr. Watson felt much interested in 
every society. The excellent preacher, Dr. Adam Clarke, who 
preached to them on Friday morning, had told the congregation, that he 
should hate his scoundrel heart if he did not love all mankind. " Why, 
sir," said Mr. Watson, " I, too, should hate my heart,— and I have no 
objection to use the expression in full, and to say, my scoundrel heart, 
— if 1 did not wish well to all our sister missionary institutions. — • 
They are all employed in endeavouring to communicate to the world 
the benefits of Christianity. And shall we not love them, and admire 
their efforts ?" He then took a view of the different missionary ope- 
rations throughout the world, and especially of the board of missions 
in America. " The American Christians," said he, " are coming for- 
ward in a most astonishing manner ; they make the most surprising 
calculations ; their designs are gigantic and overwhelming.* There is 
a period pointed out in prophecy, when the Spirit shall be poured 
out upon all flesh ; and I doubt not that the conversion of the world 
will be both rapid and glorious." 

Mr. Watson concluded by moving the following important resolu- 
tion :— -" That to the Rev. William Ward, of Serampore, this meeting 
returns its thanks for the sermon preached before the society on 
Thursday evening last, in which he strikingly evinced the absolute 
necessity of Divine influence in order to the success of missions, and 
the duty of united and fervent prayers to God in that behalf; and that 
it be most earnestly recommended to all the members and friends of 
this society, and of its auxiliaries and branches, in every part of the 
kingdom, to be more than ever abundant in supplications for the 
special blessing of Heaven, and the promised outpouring of the Holy 
Spirit, on missionaries themselves, and on the heathen world in which 
they labour." 

In the course of this most interesting meeting Richard Rothwell, 
Esq., alderman and sheriff of London, appeared on the platform with his 
insignia of office. He had that morning been attending the execution 
of some wretched culprits, who confessed that they had been led into a 
career of crime by reading the infidel writings of Paine, and that the 
principles which they had been taught by that bad and vain man had 
brought them to their ignominious end. The scenes which were that 
day presented to the view of the alderman formed a perfect and strik- 

* Referring to a very stirring pamphlet then just published in America, enti- 
tled, " The C'iaims of Eight Hundred Millions of Heathens ;" and proposing the 
means of their conversion. 


ing contrast. In one place he saw infidelity plunging its miserable 
victims into vice and infamy ; and in the other, he saw a vast assem- 
bly of Christian people, under the influence of the most expansive 
benevolence, concerting plans for spreading truth and purity and hap- 
piness all over the world, and listening with delighted attention to the 
cheering instances of past success which the different speakers 
brought before them. The effect upon the alderman's mind was very 
powerful ; and he expressed his most cordial approbation of the society, 
whose proceedings he said he had watched for many years. 

A few weeks after this missionary anniversary was held, Mr. Wat- 
son addressed the following pious and affectionate; letter to his friend 
Mr; Walton, then in great trouble because of domestic afflictions : 

To Mr. William Walton, of Wakefield. 

London, June 5th, 1820. 

My Dear Sir, — I should have written before, but that I had an 
expectation of being called into Leicestershire on some private busi- 
ness, when I fully intended to visit Wakefield, in order to sympathize 
with you in the troubles in which you have lately been involved. I 
now find that I cannot have that opportunity; for though I am going to 
Nottingham next week, to the missionary meeting, that meeting is con- 
nected with some others on my way back, so that I cannot possibly get 
farther north. If it be possible, I will call upon you in returning from 
the conference. 

You have had a large share of trouble ; but it is your mercy that 
you know where your help lies ; and that you have proved the power 
and grace of Jesus, our Saviour, to comfort all who are in affliction.— 
What a lesson is all this on the vanity of earth, and all it contains ! 
How necessary it is to possess more than creature comforts, which 
perish in the using ! Let us thank God that the best blessings are 
secured to us by a title which can never be shaken ; by the faithful 
word of Him who is " the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever !" 

I indulged the hope when I last left your peaceful habitation, that 
you had escaped all the storms of life, and were anchored in a quiet 
haven, until the signal should be given for your return to your 
Father's house above; but there is mercy in every appointment, 
though we cannot always see it ; and " all things work together for 
good to them that love God ;" and, " Lo, I am with you always, even 
unto the end of the world:" On these promises may your faith stea- 
dily repose ! There is a harbour, into which no wave of trouble shall 
roll after us ; and for that may we all stand prepared, that so an en- 
trance may be ministered to us abundantly into its everlasting quiet- 
ness and rest. 

Present my most cordial and affectionate remembrance to Miss Wal- 
ton, and Miss Ann. There is no family I know to whom my attachment 
is so cordial ; and, believe tile, though I have not seen you so long, it is 
unabated. I shall not cease to offer up my poor prayers for you all, 
that every good may attend you. 

P S. I shall be happy to hear from you. You can direct for me at 
the. Methodist chapel, Nottingham, where I shall be, God willing, next 
Sunday and Monday ; or, if you write after that time, to the mission 
house) where I am every day. 


The conference of 1820 was held in Liverpool, at the latter end of 
July, and the beginning of August ; and many circumstances concurred 
to render it a season of peculiar interest. The political agitations in 
the manufacturing districts were carried on, by desperate men, with 
undiminished violence ; the commercial interests of the country were 
still in a state of great depression ; the privations of the poor were 
severe and widely extended ; and the spirit of disaffection to the 
government was fierce and determined, so as in many places to endanger 
the public tranquillity. These things operated very injuriously upon 
the cause of religion ; and the result was, a decrease in the Methodist 
societies in Great Britain of considerably more than four thousand 
members. When persons professing Christian godliness so far enter 
into temptation as not to be " afraid to speak evil of dignities," ascribe 
to their rulers the corrective visitations of Providence, and surrender 
themselves to a spirit of murmuring and discontent, the Methodist 
discipline and order, and especially the weekly meetings for prayer and 
religious conversation, are felt to be a serious grievance ; and the 
parties generally retire from a society which lays their passions and 
tongues under restraint, and then seek more congenial companions 
among the disciples of infidelity and democracy. This serious defalca- 
tion in the societies produced great searchings of heart in the confer- 
ence ; considerable time was occupied in conversation on the subject ; 
and the result was, a determination on the part of the preachers to pay 
increased attention to their own personal piety, and to the pastoral care 
of the people of their charge, to maintain the spirit of primitive 
simplicity and faithfulness in their public ministrations, and to extend 
the work of God in neglected neighbourhoods. 

At this conference the Rev. John Emory was present, as the repre- 
sentative of the general conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
in America ; and the details which he gave respecting the progress of 
the work of God in that continent was cheering in the highest degree. 
A mutual interchange of representatives between the two connections 
was agreed upon, and the bands of reciprocal affection were strengthen- 
ed. Mr. Emory was received in a manner the most cordial and 
friendly ; and his preaching, conversation, and Christian spirit and 
manners, excited a lively interest. Mr. Watson was requested to draw 
up an answer to the address of the general superintendents of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, which had been brought by Mr. Emory. 
In this document, which the British conference adopted, he says, speak- 
ing of their representative, " In him we have recognized the purity of 
your doctrine, and the fervour and simplicity of your piety. We have 
received him ' not as a stranger,' but ' as a brother beloved.' Our 
hearts are as his heart ; and it will be remembered as one of the most 
pleasing circumstances connected with the conference held in this 
town, that our personal intercourse with you was here restored, and 
that this work of love was committed to so able and excellent a brother, 
whose public ministrations, and addresses in our conference, have been 
equally gratifying and instructive to us and to our people. 

" From the statements made by Mr. Emory, as to the progress of 
the work of God in the United States, we have received the greatest 
satisfaction. We offered our united thanksgivings to God, that the 
doctrines of primitive Methodism, the preaching of which God has so 

Vol. I. 15 


eminently owned in the salvation of men, and the edification of believers 
are not only continued among you in their purity, but have been so 
widely extended by your great and persevering efforts, and that the 
same holy discipline, in all its essential parts, continues wherever yon 
form societies, to guard and confirm the work which God has made to 
prosper in your hands. 

" You will see that we have had to rejoice with you in the great 
extension of the work of God into the various parts of the British 
empire ; and that the institutions of Methodism, which we have proved 
to be so well adapted to promote and preserve true religion, are known 
and valued in every quarter of the globe. May we, with you, be ths 
honoured instruments of turning the disobedient to the wisdom of the 
just, in every place, and of hastening the universal kingdom of our 

At the request of the conference Mr. Watson also wrote the annual 
pastoral address to the societies. The occasion was important, and 
the principles and admonitions which he embodied in this composition 
possess a more than ordinary value. The following paragraphs are 
selected as a specimen, and as illustrating the spirit and views of the 
writer : — " The religious state of our societies in Great Britain has 
been favourably reported of by the brethren ; though we lament to 
state that a decrease in our numbers has occurred. We are satisfied, 
however, that such is the excellence of our discipline, and that, in 
general, it is so faithfully enforced, that few persons can find admission 
among us, who are not sincerely desirous to make their calling and 
election sure ; and that still fewer will long remain who have in their 
hearts forsaken the law of their God. Under the painful circumstance 
of some decline in our numbers, we derive satisfaction from the con- 
fidence we have, that, as a body, our people are ' walking in the fear 
of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.' 

" We cannot, however, but deeply regret, that, in proportion to the 
number of ministers employed, and the various means of grace which 
it is the privilege of our societies and congregations to enjoy, our suc- 
cess has, during the year, been so limited ; and that we have not had 
to rejoice, as usual, in a multitude being added to the Lord. 

" Many circumstances, we are aware, have of late occurred in our 
country, which have had an unhappy effect in counteracting the influ- 
ence of religion upon society, and in obstructing the operation of the 
best-adapted means of turning the thoughts of men to serious and 
eternal things. Commercial embarrassment, and consequent distress, 
have largely prevailed, and especially in those districts where usually 
we have had the greatest success in turning many to righteousness. — 
Unhappily, that distress has not produced general humiliation before 
God, and a livelier impression of the necessity and supreme importance 
of those blessings which, by the mercy of God, are exempted from the 
mutations of the world, and which it can neither give nor take away. 
Political agitations have spread through the land ; the correcting hand 
of a just and holy God has not been acknowledged ; and, too frequently, 
every attempt to improve the chastisements of Heaven to moral uses 
has been the object of the scorner's scoff. The attention of the public 
has been engaged by a succession of inquietudes, and irritated by the 
strife of parties. Thus, where direct opposition to the religion of 


Chiist has not been produced, by an avowed infidelity, a moral dead- 
ness to Divine things has been largely diffused. The Sabbath, and 
the ordinances of the house of God, have been more than commonly 
neglected by those whom custom, if not religious feeling, used formerly 
to lead into his temples ; and where the word of God has been heard, 
it has often found the heart too much occupied with earthly cares, or 
stirred up by earthly passions, so to receive the word of God as to 
brin°- forth fruit unto perfection. For these reasons, the last year may 
be considered as one of great spiritual dearth in many parts of the 
nation; and perhaps those special effusions of the Holy Spirit, by 
which such hinderances to the progress of true religion are commonly 
removed, have been withheld, both to produce in us a livelier sense of 
their necessity, and that the effects of evil principles upon the best 
interests of individual man, and on society, might be made more mani- 
fest ; in order to call forth more earnest prayers from the faithful, and 
incite them to ' labours more abundant.' 

" While deploring the small success of our ministry in the past year, 
we have not failed to examine our own hearts, lest any decay in the 
fervour of our own piety, lest any deficiency of zealous service in the 
cause of our great Master, should have obstructed the work and bless- 
ing of God. To similar searchings of heart, and to the most serious 
review of every past neglect and failure, we now affectionately and 
earnestly call you. Let us ' stir up the gift that is within us,' and be 
more strictly ' blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke 
in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation,' that we may ' shine as 
the lights of the world, holding forth the word of life.' The times and 
the seasons more especially call us to be decided in our religious 
character ; fruitful in counsel, and in good works ; exemplary in family 
worship, and attendance on the public means of grace ; pitiful to delud- 
ed and strayed souls ; and careful not to be ' conformed to the world.' 
Thus a holier and more efficacious influence will be exerted upon our 
families, our brethren in Christ, and upon our beloved country, ' in 
whose peace we have peace,' and to whose moral improvement and 
salvation our system was from the first devoted by our venerable 
founder. Let the abounding of iniquity, therefore, excite within us a 
nobler spirit of Christian enterprise ; and the numerous agencies of 
evil, which are now employed to destroy, stir us up to urge into more 
energetic action the saving institutions of the Gospel of Christ. Let 
us, dear brethren, ' renew our strength by waiting upon God,' and 
redouble our efforts to instruct the ignorant, to reclaim every wanderer, 
to make ' manifest in every place the savour of the knowledge of Christ ;' 
and by patience of instruction and labour extend that work in which we 
are engaged, and have hitherto, by the Divine blessing, been so success- 
ful. But never may we forget, that as all success depends upon God, 
we can only obtain it as we are ' instant in prayer,' and deeply expe- 
rienced in personal holiness. It is a truth which we cannot too 
frequently impress upon our own hearts, and upon you, that the recovery 
of souls, and the edification of the Churches, are the sole and glorious 
work of the eternal Spirit. Let us, then, more earnestly and per- 
severingly supplicate the effusion of his influence upon our congrega- 
tions and our country, ' that the word of the Lord may have free course 
and be glorified ;' let us joyfully and exclusively depend upon his aid 


in every act of religious duty ; and while in the exercise of our humble 
trust we acknowledge God, he will not fail to regard our prayers, and 
vouchsafe the fulness of his blessing. 

" The reports laid before us, as to the state and prospects of the 
work of God in our foreign missions, by the missionary committee, 
afford us the highest satisfaction. In every place prospects of great 
usefulness present themselves, and in many there has been a great 
increase in the societies. The blessings of religion are rapidly diffus- 
ing themselves through the negro population of the West India colonies ; 
and in many entirely heathen parts of the world, by translations, by 
schools, and by other labours of our brethren, the light of the know- 
ledge of Christ is breaking through the gloom of ages, turning the 
attention and hearts of men to the ' only true God, and Jesus Christ 
whom he hath sent.' Thus, as a body, we are taking a large share in 
the true vocation of the general Church of Christ, the extension of the 
name and kingdom of our Lord to the ends of the earth. For this 
great service a sufficient number of qualified labourers have been raised 
up, and sent into the fields white unto the harvest ; and the funds for their 
support have been most liberally supplied by your charity, and the 
kindness of the friends of missions in general. In these exertions of 
your zeal and piety we greatly rejoice ; they have received the seal 
of the sanction and blessing of the Lord of the Churches. A success 
unprecedented in the history of modern missions has been vouchsafed to 
the ministry of our brethren in various scenes of their foreign labour ; 
and the present state and enlarging prospects of our missions generally 
may be considered as the voice of our God, inviting us to new efforts 
and triumphs, and saying, ' Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding 
in the work of the Lord ; forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not 
in vain in the Lord.' 

" The conference has felt peculiar satisfaction in receiving a repre- 
sentative from the General American Conference, after a suspension 
of personal communication for some years. Circumstances, and not 
any diminution of Christian love, had interrupted this grateful inter- 
change of brotherly affection and mutual esteem. The renewal of it 
by the deputation of our excellent and beloved brother Emory has given 
us great joy. Through him we have received the assurances of that 
regard which is felt by our brethren of the United States, toward the 
Methodists of Great Britain, by whom that work which now diffuses 
light and life through the vast space of that great and rising country 
was first commenced ; and of their desire that a regular intercourse by 
deputation from each conference should be established. All the ex- 
pressions of kindness thus communicated to us by brother Emory, in 
the name and on the behalf of the General American Conference, have 
been echoed back by the sympathies of our hearts. We could not 
hear his statements, as to the state and progress of the common work 
in the United States of America, without being deeply affected with 
gratitude to God, and admiration of the ardour and enterprise of our 
brethren there in the cause of Christ. Their unwearied labours have 
not only, by the Divine blessing, raised up large and flourishing socie- 
ties in the principal cities and towns of the Union ; but they have 
erected the altars of God in the distant wilderness, and connected the 
insulated settlements of men with the hopes, the joys, and the worship 



of the universal Church. As the tide of population has extended itself 
over that vast country, they have followed it, embracing every oppor- 
tunity to reach, and submitting to great difficulties and privations to 
save souls. To these labours they were long animated by the noble 
example of the venerable Asbury, a man of apostolic labours, whose 
spirit of patient zeal and self-denying piety has abundantly descended 
upon the excellent general superintendents, who now direct those vast 
means which exist in a state of increasing activity in the American con- 
tinent, for the extension of the hallowing influence of true religion 
through the growing population of the Anglo-American empire. An 
efficient religious system, operating wide as that extensive country, has 
been created, which already has begun to extend itself beyond its bounds, 
ample as they are, to the pagan Indians on its borders, and promises, 
under Divine Providence, to disperse the rays of truth to the still be- 
nighted parts of that great continent, on the north, the west, and the 
south ; to parts where civilization is silently laying the foundation of 
future states, but now involved in superstition, or the bewildering dark- 
ness of paganism and idolatry. To these great successes, and still 
greater prospects, our hearts have been delightfully directed by the 
kind visit of our beloved brother ; and with invigorated affection we 
have embraced our distant brethren, one with us in doctrine, one in the 
object of their labours, and one in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 
" As a body, we do not exist for the purpose of party. Our aim has 
been higher : and if ever it ought to fix itself with firmness upon ele- 
vated purposes, it is at the present moment. Large and extensive fields 
of usefulness lie around us ; and if we keep our calling constantly in 
mind, if we live under the deep impression of the spiritual and moral 
dangers of our country, and of the worth of souls, we shall not fail to 
unite with our efforts to make known the name of Christ to pagans 
abroad, exertions more comprehensive and ardent for the diffusion of 
religious light and influence at home. We ourselves would anew im- 
press upon our minds the admonition of our venerable founder, ' You 
have nothing to do but to save souls ;' and in the name of our Lord we 
call for your awakened and renewed co-operation. We have most 
solemnly given up ourselves again to this, the only true object of the 
Christian ministry. Let us carry along with us your heightened fer- 
vour, that by common efforts in every place, our societies may be built 
up in faith, and established in holiness, and the work extended into 
every neighbourhood, to which a spirit like that of our great Master, 
who came to ' seek' that he might save, can obtain access. 

" With those of our dear people who still suffer in the distresses of 
our country, we deeply sympathize. We weep with those that weep ; 
and we know the tears which many of you have shed, and the anxie- 
ties which have filled your hearts. We trust that these afflictive dis- 
pensations to the nation are but temporary ; and that the prayers which 
are constantly offered to Him who 'ruleth among the nations' will 
finally prevail in behalf of the poor. To Him you have looked, and 
found support in the present consolations and the future hopes of Chris- 
tianity. May your minds be still sustained upon the immovable rock 
of the Divine promises ! Amidst every earthly change your God and 
Saviour is eternally the same ; the sure confidence of all who flee to 
him for refuge, ' a very present help in trouble.' ' He knoweth how 


to deliver the godly out of temptation,' and to make a temporary trial 
the means of spiritual and everlasting good. 

" We have thought it our duty, as representing so great a number of 
his majesty's subjects, to prepare an address to our sovereign, on his 
accession to the throne of these realms. This was unanimously voted 
on the first day of our meeting ; and while we thus announce to you 
that we have complied with what you, from your known loyalty, and 
regard to the institutions of the country, and to the illustrious house of 
Brunswick, expected from us as your ministers and representatives, in 
expressing to his present majesty our joy at his accession, and our 
fervent prayers for the prosperity of his reign, we cannot but record 
our grateful and affectionate remembrance of the name and virtues of 
our late venerable sovereign, George the Third ; under whose long- 
continued reign our religious liberties were held so sacred, and under 
whose administration we never failed to obtain protection and redress, 
both for ourselves and our societies abroad. May the throne of his 
successor be established in righteousness ! May there be peace and 
truth in his day ! 

" ' And now, brethren, we commend you to God, and to the word of 
his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance 
among them that are sanctified.' After having largely and seriously 
conferred on those subjects in which we have with you a common con- 
cern and interest, we are about to separate, and re-commence our la- 
bours among you in our several circuits. We are reminded, by the 
close of another of our annual assemblies, in which we have renewed 
our mutual affection, that those tender and intimate bonds which unite 
us to you and to each other, and which, we trust, will acquire increas- 
ing strength as long as we remain on earth, must, ere long, be broken. 
Every year records on our minutes the death of many of our fellow 
labourers, and your faithful pastors. The peaceful scenes of the Church, 
and of a religious society, where we so often mingle in holy friendships, 
and feel how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in 
unity, must soon close upon us and you. Let our conversation be in 
heaven. Let us imbibe more of the spirit of those above, the conquer- 
ors before the throne, as we approach their society, and view their 
glories in a perspective less dark and distant. Let us follow them as 
they followed Christ. So shall our Lord count us worthy to stand in 
his presence, and to minister in his sanctuary the offerings of exalted 
praise, eternal love, and celestial service. So shall we join those 
venerable names on whose labours we have entered, and the fruits of 
whose toils and sufferings we so largely enjoy, and renew that union 
with each other which now conveys to our hearts a delight so rich and 
supporting, in that kingdom of our Lord, where it shall for ever remain, 
unalloyed by human change and human frailty." 

At this conference Mr. Watson was returned a third year to the 
London Avest circuit, with the three excellent colleagues who, during 
the two former years, had been his fellow labourers. He was also 
continued in his office as secretary to the missionary society, with his 
esteemed friends the Rev. Messrs. Bunting and Joseph Taylor. The 
duties of the secretaryship were onerous, and involved considerable 
responsibility ; but his mental resources were equal to every emergency, 
and he never shrunk from his share of honourable and pious labour. 


The task of corresponding with the missionaries was not the least im- 
portant duty which devolved upon him. Some of the missionaries 
were 3 r oung men, and needed instruction ; others were placed in cir- 
cumstances of great and pressing difficulty, and applied for advice. 
Occasionally a missionary was prodigal of life, especially in an un- 
healthy climate, and it was requisite to admonish him to moderate his 
labours, that he might not offer to God murder for sacrifice. In some 
of the stations much preparatory work was necessary. The mission- 
ary laboured from year to year, and after all saw little fruit. He was 
therefore in danger of growing weary and faint in his mind ; and his 
case called for affectionate sympathy and encouragement. It is diffi- 
cult for people who enjoy all the advantages of the Sabbath, of the 
ministry of the word, of the sacraments, and of Christian fellowship, 
to form a just conception of the trying situation of a missionary whose 
lot is cast in a purely heathen country, where the objects and examples 
daily presented to his view are only calculated to deaden every spirit- 
ual affection, to blunt the feelings of conscience, and familiarize the 
mind with scenes of vice and crime ; while there is an absence of all 
the helps and stimulants to piety and devotion. And yet, if the men 
who are thus circumstanced suffer their love to wax cold, their hatred 
of idolatry and sin to abate, and their zeal to languish and decay, they 
are ill qualified for the work in which they are employed. Mr. Wat- 
son's correspondence with the missionaries was distinguished by great 
piety, affection, and fidelity ; admirably adapted to " stir up their pure 
minds by way of remembrance," and excite them to the cultivation of 
their talents, and to maintain the spirit of Christian godliness. A let- 
ter addressed to the Rev. William D. Goy, then stationed in the island 
of Grenada, in the West Indies, may serve as a specimen. Mr. Goy 
says, " I have at different times witnessed Mr. Watson's kindness to- 
ward the missionaries, and his still deeper interest in the mission 
work. I am satisfied that he was, in his capacity of mission secretary, 
a faithful servant of the public ; and that he entertained toward the 
missionaries the most affectionate feeling." Mr. Goy had now been 
labouring three years in the principal town of that colony ; some of the 
influential planters had applied to the committee for an extension of the 
mission to the eastern side of the island, where there was the largest 
population of negro slaves ; and Mr. Goy was appointed to occupy this 
new station, and to communicate Christian instruction to a people who 
previously had no knowledge of Christianity. 

To the Rev. William D. Goy. 

London, Sept. 27th, 1820. 
My Dear Brother, — We are happy to hear that so good a pros- 
pect presents itself to your labours in that part of the island in which 
you are now stationed. Much depends upon your success in improv- 
ing the moral condition of the slaves by careful instruction ; for the 
estates, so improved by the Divine blessing, may then be appealed to, 
as proofs of the good effects of religious care ; and as you have the 
planters on your side, you have the best opportunity for bringing into 
operation the means which have always proved more or less effectual. 
Let it be your noble ambition to present to the island a body of well- 
instructed and orderly negroes. 


We approve both of your plan of careful and effectual catechisation 
and of giving sufficient time to each estate. Nothing, we are persuaded, 
goes so directly to promote the end we all propose as the former ; for 
without it sermons have but a very partial effect ; and those negroes 
who become really religious are often, for want of better instruction in 
the principles of religion, very unsteady. 

It is also of equal importance that, while a missionary most consci- 
entiously fills up his time, and uses all diligence, he should not under- 
take more than he can effectually perform. When the people on an 
estate are well catechised, they will be prepared for preaching ; 
and he may then give more time to the catechising of the people of 

You know something of the system of monitors in our schools at 
home ; and I would suggest, whether you could not use the older chil- 
dren, who have been well taught, to instruct the younger, under your 
direction ; and thus save yourself a little labour. They would prepare 
them for you, and sooner perhaps fit them for your public catechising, 
when, no doubt, you make use of the catechism as a sort of text book, 
on which to found your remarks and exhortations. You Avho know the 
circumstances are, however, the best judge. 

Could not the children also learn some of Dr. Watts's and Mr. Wes- 
ley's hymns for children 1 and if taught to sing, they would be the 
more interested. But probably you have adopted this also. 

My dear brother, let us live near to God, and labour as those who 
see the end approaching. " Occupy till I come," was the injunction 
of our Lord. God grant that when he cometh we may be found so 
doing ! 

Present my compliments to Mr. Hewitson,* whom I saw once or 
twice at the mission office, in London. 


Mr. Southey's "Life of Wesley" — Brief View of Mr. Wesley's Doctrine — Mr. 
Southey's defective Views of Religion — Mr. Watson publishes " Observations on 
Southey's Life of Wesley" — Extracts from that Work — Death of the Rev. Jo- 
seph Benson — Missionary Report for the Year 1820 — New South Wales — New- 
Zealand — The West Indies — Anniversary of the Missionary Society in 1821 — 
The Rev. William Ward — Remarks on Missionary Meetings — Letter to Mr. 

Mr. Watson was never unemployed, and he was never employed 
in a trifling manner. There was an energy and vigour in his mind 
which seemed to bid defiance to every obstacle ; and hence the extent 
of his labours is almost incredible, considering the weakness of his 
constitution, and the frequent interruption of his studies by ill health. 
In the autumn of 1820 he appeared as the opponent of one of the most 
distinguished literary men of the age. " The Life of Wesley, and the 
Rise and Progress of Methodism, by Robert Southey, Esq., Poet Lau- 
reate," in two large volumes, was published in the early part of the 

* This gentleman was the planter on whose premises Mr. Goy then resided. 


year. In this work the theological and disciplinary principles of Me- 
thodism, and the character of its founder were subjects of animadver- 
sion ; and a defence of both was deemed necessary. The Wesleyan 
book committee, acting in behalf of the conference, requested Mr. 
Watson to undertake this task ; a request which was repeated by the 
conference, in whose minutes the following resolution was inserted : — 
" The conference approve of the request of the book committee to Mr. 
Watson, to prepare a review of the Life of the Rev. John Wesley, 
which has been recently published by Mr. Southey ; and the book 
committee are directed to circulate that review, when printed, as ex- 
tensively as possible." Mr. Watson had a strong conviction of the 
mischievous tendency of the work in question ; and at the solicitation 
of his brethren, he undertook the defence of Mr. Wesley, and of his 
religious system, against their learned and eloquent assailant. 

Mr. Southey's work had been long expected ; and was less severe 
in its censures upon Mr. Wesley and the Methodists than was antici- 
pated, considering the determined opposition to them which the Quar- 
terly Review had assumed ; a periodical with which the author was 
known to be intimately connected. In collecting materials for the 
biography of Mr. Wesley, the poet laureate explored every accessible 
source of information ; he does justice to Mr. Wesley's great abilities, 
to his attainments as a scholar, and his fine temper as a man and a 
controversialist ; he acknowledges the extensive moral good effected 
by Mr. Wesley's instrumentality ; and the narrative, which is beauti- 
fully written, is enlivened by anecdotes, and sketches of contemporary 
characters, so as to be rendered highly entertaining, and invite the pe- 
rusal of all classes of people ; especially as an air of philosophy and 
candour is thrown over the whole. The praise given to Mr. Wesley 
is occasionally very high, and was likely to gratify his friends ; and the 
censures passed upon him are sufficiently harsh to meet the prejudices 
of the generality of his enemies. The work professes strong attach- 
ment to the established Church ; and the partial separation of the Me- 
thodists from her pale is alternately made a matter of regret and vitu- 
peration. Several of the Methodists thought that the work, as a whole, 
was honourable to Mr. Wesley ; that it would elevate his character in 
the public estimation ; and therefore rather serve than injure the cause 
in which they were embarked. It was the only biography of Mr. Wes- 
ley that had then appeared which does full justice to his talents and 
scholarship. In the whole of these views Mr. Watson could not ac- 
quiesce. That the work might accidentally serve the cause of true re- 
ligion, he was not inclined to deny ; but he thought its direct tendency 
to be very injurious. Individuals, by reading it, might be favourably 
impressed with the general character of Mr. Wesley, and thus be led 
to peruse his own writings, and judge for themselves concerning his 
religious views, and in this way the work might do good ; but Mr. 
Watson saw that, however Mr. Wesley might be occasionally held up 
to admiration and respect, the religion which it was the business of 
that great man's life to propagate was denied and ridiculed by his 
biographer. All that Mr. Wesley deemed vital and saving in Chris- 
tianity, Mr. Southey coolly explains away upon philosophical principles. 

The religion inculcated by Mr. Wesley and his coadjutors is thus 
stated by himself, at the beginning of his " Earnest Appeal to Men of 


Reason and Religion :" — " We see, (and who does not ?) the number- 
less follies and miseries of our fellow creatures. We see on every 
side either men of no religion at all, or men of a lifeless, formal 
religion. We are grieved at the sight, and should greatly rejoice, if by 
any means we might convince some that there is a better religion to be 
attained, — a religion worthy of God that gave it. And this we conceive 
to be no other than love ; the love of God and of all mankind ; the 
loving God with all our heart and soul and strength, as having first 
loved us, as the Fountain of all the good we have received, and of all 
we ever hope to enjoy ; and the loving every soul which God hath 
made, every man on earth, as our own soul. 

" This love we believe to be the medicine of life, the never- 
failing remedy for all the evils of a disordered world, for all the 
miseries and vices of men. Wherever this is, there are virtue and 
happiness going hand in hand. There is humbleness of mind, gen- 
tleness, long suffering, the whole image of God, and, at the same 
time, a peace that passeth all understanding, and joy unspeakable and 
full of glory. 

' Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind ; 
Each prayer accepted, and each wish resign'd ; 
Desires composed, affections ever even ; 
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to heaven.' 

" This religion we long to see established in the world ; a religion 
of love, and joy, and peace ; having its seat in the heart, in the inmost 
soul, but ever showing itself by its fruits, continually springing forth, 
not only in all innocence, (for love worketh no ill to his neighbour,) but 
likewise in every kind of beneficence, spreading virtue and happiness 
all around it. 

" This religion have we been following after for many years, as 
many know, if they would testify : but all this time seeking wisdom, 
we found it not ; we were spending our strength in vain. And being 
now under full conviction of this, we declare it to all mankind ; for we 
desire not that others should wander out of the way, as we have done 
before them ; but rather that they may profit by our loss ; that they 
may go (though we did not, having then no man to guide us) the 
straight way to the religion of love, even by faith. 

" Now faith (supposing the Scripture to be of God) is itpayiiwruv 
t\ey%oS x /3Xeit'o(a£vwv, the demonstrative evidence of things unseen ; 
the supernatural evidence of things invisible, not perceivable by eyes 
of flesh, or by any of our natural senses or faculties. Faith is that 
Divine evidence whereby the spiritual man discerneth God, and the 
things of God. It is with regard to the spiritual world what sense 
is with regard to the natural. It is the spiritual sensation of every 
soul that is born of God. 

" Perhaps you have not considered it in this view : I will then 
explain it a little farther. Faith, according to the Scriptural account, 
is the eye of the new-born soul. Hereby every true believer in God 
' seeth him who is invisible.' Hereby (in a more particular manner 
since life and immortality have been brought to light by the Gospel) 
he ' seeth the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ ;' 
and beholdeth what manner of love it is which the Father hath be« 


stowed upon us, 'that we' (who are born of the Spirit) 'should be called 
the sons of God.' 

" It is the ear of the soul, whereby a sinner ' hears the voice of the 
Son of God, and lives ;' even that voice which alone wakes the dead, 
— ' Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.' 

" It is (if I may be allowed the expression) the palate of the soul : 
for hereby a believer ' tastes the good word, and the powers of the 
world to come ;' and hereby he both ' tastes and sees that the Lord is 
gracious,' yea, and 'merciful to him a sinner.' 

" It is the feeling of the soul, whereby a believer perceives, through 
' the power of the Highest overshadowing' him, both the existence 
and the presence of Him in whom he ' lives, moves, and has his being ;' 
and indeed the whole invisible world, the entire system of things 
eternal. And hereby, in particular, he feels ' the love of God shed 
abroad in his heart.' 

" By this ' faith we are saved' from all uneasiness of mind, from the 
anguish of a wounded spirit, from discontent, from fear, and sorrow of 
heart, and from that inexpressible listlessness, and weariness both of 
the world and of ourselves, which we had so helplessly laboured 
under for many years ; especially when we were out of the hurry of 
the world, and sunk into calm reflection. In this we find that love of 
God, and of all mankind, which we had elsewhere sought in vain. — 
This we know and feel, and therefore cannot but declare, saves every 
one that partakes of it both from sin and misery, from every unhappy 
and unholy temper. 

' Soft peace she brings wherever she arrives, 
She builds her quiet as she forms our lives, 
Lays the rough paths of peevish nature even, 
And opens in each breast a little heaven.' 

" If you ask, ' Why then have not all men this faith ? all at least 
who conceive it to be so happy a thing ? Why do they not believe 
immediately V We answer, (on the Scripture hypothesis,) ' It is the 
gift of God.' No man is able to work it in himself. It is a work of 
omnipotence. It requires no less power thus to quicken a dead 
soul, than to raise a body that lies in the grave. It is a new creation; 
and none can create a soul anew but He who at first created the hea- 
vens and the earth. 

" May not your own experience teach you this ? Can you give 
yourself this faith ? Is it now in your power to see, or hear, or taste, 
or feel God? Have you already, or can you raise in yourself, any 
perception of God, or of an invisible world ? I suppose you do not 
deny that there is an invisible world. You will not charge it upon 
poor old Hesiod, to Christian prejudice of education, when he says, in 
those well-known words, 

' Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth 
Unseen, whether we wake, or if we sleep.* 

Now, is there any power in your soul, whereby you discern either 
these, or Him that created them? Or, can all y*mr wisdom and 
strength open an intercourse between yourself and the world of 
spirits ? Is it in your power to burst the veil that is on your heart, 


and let in the light of eternity ? You know it is not. You not only 
do not, but cannot, by your own strength, thus believe. The more 
you labour so to do, the more you will be convinced it is the gift 
of God. 

" It is the free gift of God, which he bestows not on those who are 
worthy of his favour ; not on such as are previously holy, and so fit to 
be crowned with all the blessings of his goodness ; but on the ungodly 
and unholy ; on those who till that very hour were fit only for ever- 
lasting destruction ; those in whom was no good thing, and whose only 
plea was, ' God be merciful to me a sinner.' No merit, no goodness 
in man precedes the forgiving love of God. His pardoning mercy 
supposes nothing in us but a sense of mere sin and misery : and to ail 
who see, and feel, and own their wants, and their utter inability to 
remove them, God freely gives faith, for the sake of Him in whom he 
is always well pleased. 

" This is a short, rude sketch of the doctrine we teach. These are 
our fundamental principles ; and we spend our lives in confirming 
others herein, and in a behaviour suitable to them." 

The reference which Mr. Wesley here makes to his own personal 
experience is peculiarly interesting and instructive. Long before he 
obtained the faith which brings salvation, he was deeply impressed 
with the necessity of personal holiness ; and he used every means in 
his power to obtain that only qualification for heaven. He procured 
the finest hymns in all languages, and sung them with the utmost sin- 
cerity of devotion ; he collected the finest prayers that the universal 
Church could supply, and repeated them upon his knees before God, 
with frequency and deep seriousness ; yet, after all, he found himself 
under the dominion of the carnal mind, and in bondage to the corrup- 
tion of his own evil nature, and to that fear which arises from conscious 
guilt. He studied all the arguments in favour of natural and revealed 
religion, and endeavoured thus to fortify his mind against skepticism 
and infidelity ; and yet the thought would often steal upon him, that the 
universe has existed from eternity, and that there is no future state ; 
and so powerful were these suggestions, and his own heart so prone to 
yield to them, that he has frequently pursued the thought, till there was 
scarcely any spirit in him, and he has been ready to choose strangling 
rather than life.* His devotional exercises never produced in his heart 
the principle of love to God and all mankind ; his reasonings never put 
him in possession of saving faith ; and hence, notwithstanding all his 
sincerity and efforts, he was neither holy nor happy. His heart was 
the seat of various evils ; and his spirit was restless and uneasy, per- 
petually sighing for some absent and unknown good. The permanent 
tranquillity which he enjoyed after he had obtained the faith which is 
of the operation of God is strongly and beautifully described in his 
own expressive language which has been just quoted. Nor was Mr. 
Wesley peculiar in all this. Thousands of persons, in all parts of the 
kingdom, and of every character and grade in society, were brought 
by the same means — faith in the blood of atonement — into the same 
state of purity and peace ; and this they enjoyed and exemplified both 
in life and death.* 

* Sermon LXX. The Case of Reason impartially Considered. Works, vol. 
ii, page 130. American edition. 


The reality of all this Mr. Southey denies. He makes no attempt 
to show that Mr. Wesley had mistaken the sense of Scripture, by which 
he professed in all things to be guided. The Bible is not made the 
standard of appeal in any part of his controversy with Mr. Wesley ; 
but the poet laureate treats religion entirely as an affair of philosophy. 
No one, indeed, would have objected to the legitimate application of 
philosophy in the elucidation of Mr. Wesley's character and conduct ; 
but the philosophy of Mr. Southey unhappily interferes with the most 
important verities of the Christian revelation. It, in effect, supersedes 
the providence and the grace of God, and contradicts the obvious sense 
of Scripture and of every orthodox confession of faith. According to 
Mr. Southey, the founder of Methodism was not raised up by the pro- 
vidence of God, and invested by him with suitable qualifications for 
calling the attention of a slumbering and ungodly nation to religion in 
its spirituality and power ; but was made an eminent and successful 
minister of the Gospel by the circumstances of the times : he was not 
" thrust forth" into the field by " the Lord of the harvest," in answer to 
the prayers of the Church ; but was prompted to his unparalleled la- 
bours by " the stirring of ambition." His success in the conversion of 
men was not effected by a Divine influence, exerted in connection with 
the faithful enunciation of the truth of God ; but by the arts of the 
speaker. The sorrows of penitence, and the joys of pardon, were 
equally the effects of " a new disease ;" at the " crisis" of which the 
sufferer was " filled with all joy and peace in believing." When sin- 
ners, abandoned to every vice and crime, became holy and upright, 
devout and prayerful, they were not renewed in the spirit of their minds 
by the power of the Holy Ghost ; but " Wesley," by his simple elo- 
quence, opened in their hearts sources of piety, of which they had pre- 
viously been unconscious. All religious experience, from the first 
dawn of Divine light upon the mind, and the first desire of the heart 
toward God and heaven, to the consolations of holiness, and the bless- 
edness of dying in the Lord, were to be resolved into an indefinite 
something denominated " enthusiasm ;" and the work of conversion 
and salvation, which Mr. Wesley was accustomed to call " the work 
of God," Mr. Southey found to be entirely of human origin, resolvable 
into the peculiarities of our physical constitution. If all this were true, 
Mr. Watson saw that he and his brethren in the ministry might apply 
to themselves and the societies under their care the startling language 
of St. Paul, uttered on another occasion, " Our preaching is vain, and 
your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God. 
Ye are yet in your sins." He also perceived that every neglecter of 
the Christian salvation, every trifler with religion, might find in Mr. 
Southey's book a justification of his impenitence and unbelief. Of the 
sincerity of Mr. Southey's attachment to Christianity, as a Divine re- 
velation, Mr. Watson had no doubt ; but he saw that nothing was easier 
than the application of Mr. Southey's philosophy to the conduct of the 
primitive Christians, and to many parts of the New Testament, which 
relate to personal religion, when the whole would appear to be a delu- 
sion, an affair merely of passion and imagination. 

Mr. Southey's temerity was very offensive to Mr. Watson. He 
professes great zeal for the interests of the Church of England ; but 
that his attention had never been seriously directed to the vital doctrines 


of the Protestant reformers, the learned and pious founders of the esta- 
blishment, was undeniable. Many of his censures upon the creed of 
Mr. Wesley apply with equal force to the formularies which received 
their sanction, and which they sealed with their blood. The philosophy 
of this professed Churchman, in spite of his prayer book, sets aside 
the doctrine of original sin and of Satanic agency ; it denies the sensible 
application of the benefits of redemption to individuals through faith ; 
and it leaves all the offices of the Christian comforter to be contem- 
plated and realized by dreaming fanatics. Had this popular writer 
confined his philosophy to literature and politics, it would never have 
called forth the animadversion of Mr. Watson ; but when it was placed 
in opposition to principles which have been held sacred by the spiritual 
part of the Church of God in all ages, and in which the eternal interests 
of mankind are involved, he felt that silence was a sin ; and that " the 
man who had done this thing" ought to be made answerable at the bar 
of the Christian public. For Mr. Southey, as one of the first literary 
men of the age, he had a high respect ; and he had long been inclined 
to think with him on many subjects of national interest ; but when, in 
an evil hour, this distinguished writer so far lost sight of his true call- 
ing as to tamper with " the Gospel of our salvation," and expose it to 
derision under the name of " Methodism," the " spirit" of Mr. Watson 
was " stirred in him," and he assumed a tone of authority and rebuke 
to which he had not been accustomed in any of his previous publica- 
tions. On a somewhat similar occasion Bishop Taylor remarked, in 
regard to that mysterious intercourse with God which is enjoyed by 
every spiritual worshipper, and the reality of which men of skeptical 
minds have so often denied : " This is a subject to be felt, and not to 
be talked of; and they that never touched it with their finger may 
secretly, perhaps, laugh at it in their heart, and be never the wiser." 

The title of Mr. Watson's work is, " Observations on Southey's Life 
of Wesley : being a Defence of the Character, Labours, and Opinions 
of the Founder of Methodism against the Misrepresentations of that 
Publication." It is distinguished throughout by great force of reason- 
ing, and contains many passages of superior beauty and eloquence. — 
As a vindication of Mr. Wesley's views and proceedings, it was not 
inferior to any work that had appeared since the publication of his own 
incomparable "Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion," about eighty 
years before. The writer shows that Mr. Wesley's character and tenets 
are to be judged of by a higher standard than that of a flippant philo- 
sophy ; yet he often meets his opponent upon the ground which he 
himself had chosen, and " takes from him the armour in which he 

Independently of the general bearing of this work, as a defence of 
Mr. Wesley, it contains valuable remarks and suggestions upon several 
collateral subjects of interest and importance. Mr. Watson's Metho- 
dism was of a purely Wesleyan character, and never rendered him 
hostile to the established Church ; nor did he think that the spirit of 
intolerance was at all peculiar to her adherents. Having stated the 
reasons which induced, on the part of the Methodist societies, a partial 
separation from her pale, he says, " That a great and most gratifying 
alteration has taken place, within a few years, both in the doctrine and 
lives of the national clergy, is certain ; and by none is this circumstance 


more gladly hailed than by the Methodists. The statement of the facts 
mentioned above was necessary to explain the reasons which led to a 
departure from Mr. Wesley's original plan ; but it is not made in a 
spirit of hostility to the Church of England, in so many respects to be 
venerated, and for whose growing prosperity and perpetuity the wishes 
of none are more sincere than my own. I would not forget that she is 
' the mother of us all ;' and I can never contemplate without the deep- 
est admiration her noble army of confessors and martyrs, and the illus- 
trious train of her divines, whose writings have been, and continue to 
be, the light of Christendom. Bigotry in forms of Church government 
has a peculiar absurdity. Different opinions as to many doctrines may 
certainly plead the authority of the letter of Scripture with a much better 
grace than it can be urged when used to support the details of Church 
order ; points which the Holy Spirit has left so much at large as to 
furnish us only with principles and not with forms. All beside the 
appointment of faithful men to minister the word and sacraments, and 
to bear rule in the Church, so as to drive away errors and vices, is 
matter of pure inference. A bigot for Independency or Presbyterian- 
ism, and a bigot for diocesan episcopacy and apostolical succession, 
stand upon nearly the same ground. There is little difference between 
the spirit of Laud, and that which burns in the unhallowed writings of 
Robinson of Cambridge, and a recent History of the Dissenters.* The 
meekness and gentleness of Christ is as far removed from the one as 
the other ; and persecution, in one form or other, must ever result from 
the want of charity, when that which ' letteth' is removed out of the 

He was a warm admirer of the liturgy of the Church of England, 
and thought its general introduction into the Methodist chapels on the 
forenoon of the Lord's day greatly to be desired. " The liturgy," says 
he, " secures the reading of a large portion of the Scriptures ; it secures 
also, what Mr. Wesley has properly called ' the four grand parts of 
public worship ;' it makes the service of God's house appear more like 
our true business on the Lord's day ; and beside the aid it affords to 
the most devout and spiritual, a great body of evangelical truth is, by 
the constant use, laid up in the minds of children and ignorant people, 
who, when at length they begin to pray under a religious concern, are 
already furnished with suitable, sanctifying, solemn, and impressive 
petitions. Persons well acquainted with the liturgy are certainly in a 
state of important preparation for the labours of the preacher ; and 
their piety often takes a richer and more sober character from that 

On the influence of Methodism upon public morals, and the national 
welfare, Mr. Watson remarks, " Mr. Southey has applied too much of 
his attention to such subjects not to know that a number of those 
demoralizing causes were then coming into operation, which, with all 

* The History here referred to is that by Doctors Bogue and Bennet. As a 
literary composition it is alternately flippant and dull ; but its distinguishing cha. 
racteristic is hostility to the established Church, and to the Wesleyan Methodists, 
whose tenets and character are described with little regard for either truth or 
charity. An abridged edition of this work has lately been published, by Dr. 
Bennet, in which some of the sarcasms upon Mr. Wesley and his preachers arc 
expunged ; but their views of Christian theology are grossly misrepresented. 


the counteractions since supplied by the Church, and the different 
religious sects, by schools, and by Bibles, have produced very injurious 
effects upon the morals and principles of the nation ; that the tide of 
an unprecedented commercial prosperity began then to flow into the 
country, and continued, for a long succession of years, to render the 
means of sensual indulgence more ample, and to corrupt more deeply 
all ranks of society ; that in consequence of the independence thus 
given to the lower orders in many of the most populous districts, the 
moral control and influence of the higher became gradually weaker ; 
that the agitation of political subjects, during the American quarrel, and 
the French revolution, with the part which even the operative classes 
were able to take in such discussions, by means of an extended educa- 
tion, produced, as will always be the case among the half informed, a 
strong tendency to republicanism, — a restless desire of political change 
on every pinching of the times, and its constant concomitant, an aver- 
sion to the national establishment, partly as the result of ill-digested 
theories, partly as controlling the favourite notions of the disaffected, 
and partly because this feeling was encouraged by the negligent habits 
of the clergy, and the absence of that influence they might have acquired 
in their parishes by careful pastoral attentions. To all this is to be 
added the diffusion of infidel principles, both of foreign and home 
growth, which, from the studies of the learned, descended into the shop 
of the mechanic, and, embodied in cheap and popular works, found 
their way into every part of the empire. To counteract agencies and 
principles so active and so pernicious, it is granted that no means have 
yet been applied of complete adequacy. This is the reason why their 
effects are so rife in the present day ; and that we are now in the midst 
of a state of things which no considerate man can contemplate without 
anxiety. These circumstances, so devastating to morals and good 
principles, could only have been fully neutralized by the ardent exer- 
tions of every clergyman in his parish, of every dissenting minister in 
his congregation, of every Methodist preacher in his circuit, of every 
private Christian in his own circle, or in the place which useful and 
pious institutions of various kinds would have assigned him ; and even 
the special blessing of God, that influence upon men's minds, and that 
efficient co-operation with human means, which Mr. Southey treats so 
lightly, would have been necessary to give effect to the whole. But 
had no correctives been applied, what had been the present state of the 
nation and of the Church ? The labours of the founders of Methodism 
were from the beginning directly counteractive of the evils just men- 
tioned ; and those have little reason to stigmatize them, who deplore 
such evils most, and yet have done least for their correction and 
restraint. Wherever these men went, they planted the principles of 
religion in the minds of the multitudes who heard them ; they acted on 
the offensive against immorality, infidelity, and error ; the societies they 
raised were employed in doing good to all ; the persons they associated 
with them in the work of national reformation were always engaged in 
spreading good principles ; and though great multitudes were beyond 
their reach, they spread themselves into every part of the land, turning 
the attention of men to religious concerns, calming their passions, guard- 
ing them against the strifes of the world, enjoining the Scriptural 
principles of ' obedience to magistrates,' and a sober, temperate, peacea- 


ble, and benevolent conduct. The direct effect of their exertions was 
great ; and it increased in energy and extent as the demoralizing causes 
before mentioned acquired also greater activity ; and when their indirect 
influence began to appear more fully in the national Church, and in 
other religious bodies, remedies more commensurate with the evils 
existing in the country began to be applied. I shall not affect to say 
what would have been the state of the Church of England under the 
uncontrolled operation of all the causes of moral deterioration and civil 
strife to which I have adverted ; or what hold that Church would have 
had upon the people at this day, had the spirit of religion not been 
revived in the country; and if, when ancient prejudices had been de- 
stroyed by the spread of deleterious novelties in the opinions of men, no 
new bond between it and the nation at large had been created. But if, 
as I am happy to believe, the national Church has much more moral 
influence, and much more respect, now than formerly ; and that its 
influence and the respect due to it are increasing with the increase of 
its clergy, this is all owing to the existence of a stronger spirit of piety ; 
and in producing that, the first great instruments were the men stigma- 
tized as ' enthusiasts' by the author of the ' Life of Wesley.' Not only 
has the spirit which they excited improved the religious state of the 
Church, but it has disposed the great body of religious people not of 
the Church to admire and respect those numerous members of the 
establishment, both clergymen and laics, whose eminent piety, talents, 
and usefulness have done more to abate the prejudices arising from 
different views of Church government, than a thousand treatises could 
have effected, however eloquently written, or ably argued." 

In answer to Mr. Southey's allegation, that Mr. Wesley was prompted 
by " ambition" to his extraordinary course of labour, Mr. Watson very 
forcibly remarks, " It is mere trifling to speak of ' ambition,' in the case 
of Mr. Wesley, in any but the best sense. Wealth, it is acknowledged, 
was not his object ; the only honour he met with was to be reproached 
and persecuted ; and the power of which we have heard so much, was 
the power to manage the affairs of a despised and a poor people. — 
What was there in this to tempt that low and corrupt ambition which 
Mr. Southey ascribes to him ? I fear that ambitious clergymen may 
now be found in the Church : let then the question of Mr. Wesley's 
ambition be put to the proof. Will any of them come among us to seek 
its gratification ? We will give them as many advantages for obtaining 
the ' notoriety' which Mr. Wesley possessed as possible. They shall 
have enough of duty, long walks, and longer rides, and fields and streets 
to preach in, and the darkest parts of the country, and the rudest of the 
people, and the hardest fare. In proportion, too, as they imitate the 
zeal of the Wesleys, we will show them all honour and respect on our 
part ; and they will not lack that reproach of which the world is not 
much more parsimonious in the present day, than when the names of 
the Wesleys were cast out as evil. It will not fail to calumniate them 
while living, if they give it too much disturbance ; and perhaps some 
future poet laureate may lay by his birth-day and coronation odes to 
asperse them when dead. Will all this tempt their ambition ? I sup- 
pose not. Neither in their day nor night dreams does Methodism ever 
occur to them as the road to honour ; and yet if it opened to Mr. Wes- 
ley so fine a field for the gratification of his ambition, why should not 

Vol. I. 16 


theirs press into the same course, in the hope of seizing the same prize? 
Have they learning ? So had he. Have they prospects in the Church 1 
So had he. Have they ambition 1 So, Mr. Southey tells us, had he. 
How then is it that he alone, of all the ambitious clergymen we ever 
heard or read of, was impelled by it into the course he adopted ; and 
that none beside himself ever thought that field preaching and itinerancy 
opened the way to a distinction sufficient to allay the ambitious appe- 
tite of any ' conqueror,' or any ' poet V I leave the difficulty to be ex- 
plained by him who created it." 

These extracts may serve as a specimem of Mr. Watson's eloquent 
and argumentative publication ; through the whole of which he has 
decidedly the advantage over his antagonist ; not only because of his 
superior theological knowledge, but in the comprehensiveness of his 
views, and in philosophic reasoning. The principal questions at issue 
between him and his opponent are not mere opinions, on which men 
may innocently differ, but affect the essential doctrines of human sal- 
vation. In this light they were viewed by one of the most learned 
prelates of the English Church, who expressed his cordial thanks to 
Mr. Watson for his triumphant defence of those great principles of 
personal religion which were distinctly recognized by all the Protestant 

Mr. Watson's work has been very extensively read, especially in 
the Methodist connection. From the time of its first appearance it has 
been in regular demand ; and a fourth edition has lately been printed 
A copy of it is said to have fallen into the hands of the prince regent, 
afterward George the Fourth, soon after it was published ; and was 
read by him with considerable interest and avidity. His opinion con- 
cerning it was indicated with sufficient explicitness by the remark 
which he made on finishing its perusal : " Mr. Watson has the advantage 
over my poet laureate." As a defence of the providence and grace 
of God, against the speculations of a skeptical philosophy, it is invalu- 
able, and is well adapted, by the blessing of God, to settle the minds 
of young persons of education on subjects the most important that can 
possibly occupy their attention. 

In the early part of the year 1821 Mr. Watson's sympathy was 
•awakened, as was that of his brethren throughout the kingdom, by the 
sickness and death of the venerable Joseph Benson. He was a man 
of small stature ; and his voice was weak and inharmonious ; yet he 
was one of the most powerful and impressive preachers that ever 
lived. Having passed through a course of sound classical training in 
his native county of Cumberland, he entered himself as a member of 
the university of Oxford ; but as his Methodism rendered him obnoxious 
to his tutor, who was the vice principal of the hall to which he belonged, 
and he was given to understand that the requisite testimonials both for 
taking his degree and obtaining ordination, would be withheld, he 
followed what to him appeared to be the opening of Providence, and 
became an itinerant preacher in connection with Mr. Wesley. His 
acquaintance with theology and the Holy Scriptures was accurate, 
profound, and comprehensive ; his zeal was intense, and his preaching 
elaborate, instructive, and awakening, almost beyond example. When 
stationed in the populous towns of Yorkshire and Lancashire, he was 
generally attended by immense congregations, who were frequently so 


affected under his word, as to be moved to loud wailing, and to seek relief 
in united prayer, in which they were joined by their faithful minister. 
Often has he kneeled down in the midst of his sermons, that his hearers 
might give expression to their penitential sorrows, and pour out their 
hearts before the God of mercy. The people, therefore, who were 
converted from the error of their way, and brought to a saving know- 
ledge of Christ, by his instrumentality, were exceedingly numerous. 
When Mr. Watson knew him, in London, he was " a very aged man," 
nearly worn out in the service of his Lord ; but he still retained his 
mental vigour, and all the simplicity and fervour of his early piety. 
For the last twenty years of his life he was the editor of the Methodist 
Magazine ; and during that period, among other useful publications, he 
wrote an invaluable Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, in which 
he brought the entire course of his theological and Biblical studies to 
bear with admirable effect. Mr. Watson highly esteemed this apos- 
tolic man. His deep and matured piety, great usefulness, sanctified 
learning, and disinterested zeal in giving the whole of his literary 
labours to the connection of which he was a member, all rendered him 
an object of interest and cordial affection with Mr. Watson, who 
delighted in his company, and in the contemplation of his character. 
This revered minister of Christ died in the Lord, Feb. 16th, 1821, 
aged s«venty-four years, leaving one of the most bright and spotless 
examples to mankind. As in the case of the first Christian martyr, 
" devout men carried him" also " to his grave, and made great lamenta- 
tion over him ;" because in him the Church and the world had sustained 
an irreparable loss. Mr. Bunting preached the funeral sermon at the 
City-Road chapel ; and afterward published in the Methodist Magazine 
a just and beautiful character of the venerable deceased. Many other 
ministers preached sermons on the same occasion in different parts of 
the kingdom, and particularly in London and the neighbourhood, where 
Mr. Benson had long been known. In this service Mr. Watson took 
an honourable and distinguished part ; and improved the death of this 
great and good man, in a sermon which he delivered in the Hinde- 
street chapel, near Manchester-square. 

In the year 1820 an altercation was introduced in regard to the time of 
making up the financial accounts of the Wesleyan Missionary Society. 
For many years those accounts had been closed in the month of June ; 
but it was now deemed advisable to keep them open till the end of 
the year. This arrangement, of course, occasioned considerable delay 
in the publication of the annual report, which did not appear till the 
new year was considerably advanced. It was, however, put into cir- 
culation in sufficient time to meet the wants of the auxiliary societies 
which held their several anniversaries in the spring ; and its details 
were highly satisfactory. The income of the institution for the year 
was £23,711. 7s. 5d. ; and to December, 31st, .£31,360. 85. id. 
During this entire period no less than twenty-nine missionaries were 
sent out by the committee, — three to India, fourteen to the West Indies, 
two to Newfoundland, two to New South Wales, one to France, two to 
Sierra-Leone, one to Nova-Scotia, two to Hayti, and two to Southern 
Africa. The number of missionaries actually employed by the society 
was about one hundred and forty. 

Notwithstanding the addition of so many missionaries from year to 


year, the society was unable to keep pace with the demands continually 
made upon it ; and hence the report states : " Beside the missionaries 
recently sent out, and those on the eve of departure, the demands of 
old stations, where the work is enlarging, and has become too ex- 
tensive for the present number of labourers to perform ; and the sup- 
ply necessary for new stations, where there is the greatest need for 
evangelical cultivation, and where hopeful opportunities to commence 
it present themselves, leave the society still in arrears to the calls of 
perishing men, and to providential indications, by a very considerable 
number of missionaries. These are circumstances which the com- 
mittee would affectionately commend to the solemn consideration of 
the society ; to its most active members in all parts of the kingdom ; 
and to the friends of religion in general. Scenes of holy exertion are 
opening to the Church of Christ on every side ; and the same reasons 
and motives which have already urged us to insipient operations for the 
moral recovery of the world remain in unabated force, and call for their 
continuance and enlargement. The various stations in the pagan 
world, which now present themselves to the notice of missionary 
societies, — ' the regions beyond' those where, through their care, 
Christ is now, though but lately, ' named,' — are not less sterile of good, 
and prolific of evil, than the places already taken into cultivation. 
In none of them does vice appear in forms less malignant ; the dark- 
ness is as intense and bewildering as that which begins to roll itself 
away before the light of the missions which have been recently esta- 
blished ; the case of their inhabitants is helpless and pitiable as that 
of the people who have already both been pitied and aided by the 
friends of modern missions ; and the obligations of Christians to extend 
the blessings of their Divine religion as far as their power will permit, 
remain unshaken and unchanged. That power, the committee are 
persuaded, is not exhausted ; and they are therefore encouraged to in- 
dulge even the ' full assurance of hope,' that they will be enabled, by 
the accession of new friends, and the active prosecution of the plans 
of auxiliary and branch missionary societies throughout the kingdom, 
to supply demands so pressing, and to extend the visitations of light 
and mercy into new scenes of darkness and misery, so truly neces- 

There are various passages in this report written by Mr. Watson in 
his happiest manner. Speaking of New South Wales, he says, " The 
number of missionaries has been increased to three ; and when the ex- 
tent of the present population is considered, with the manner in which 
they are dispersed through the colony, and also that an average of not 
fewer than two thousand convicts are annually cast upon its shores 
from Great Britain and Ireland, this will appear but a scant supply ; 
and the destitute state of the settlers, and the moral condition of the 
unhappy convicts, whose numbers are so greatly increasing, will pow- 
erfully engage the sympathy of all good men in behalf of a mission 
employed for the benefit of both. The connection, too, of the colony 
of New South Wales with numerous islands in the South Seas, with 
which its commercial intercourse is constantly enlarging, gives it a 
higher interest as a missionary station. The extension of the moraliz- 
ing and saving influence of Christianity among its inhabitants must 
ultimately have an important effect upon many populous parts of the 


earth, where now all the ignorance and ferocity of savage life reign 
without control, and which incipient civilization, where it has commenc- 
ed, unconnected with Christianity, has not in the least mitigated. How 
cheering is the prospect in that part of the world, even in its dawn ! 
If now New South Wales is sending forth rays of sacred light upon 
the long-benighted islands of the Pacific, what results may not be ex- 
pected from the multiplication of the means of Christian instruction, 
and the diffusion of the spirit of religion among its inhabitants ? Per- 
haps it is not too much to hope, that by the wonderful dispensations 
of Providence, this colony, once literally ' a den of thieves,' may 
become the Great Britain of the Southern Ocean ; and spread Chris- 
tianity, science, and commerce throughout its numerous and populous 

In regard to the formation of a mission in New-Zealand, which was 
then projected, it is said, " The inhabitants of the north island of New- 
Zealand are computed at not less than a million. They are a fine 
and intelligent race of savages, anxious for civil improvement, and 
favourably impressed, through the benevolent exertions of the Rev. 
Samuel Marsden, and the Church society, with the missionary charac- 
ter, and with Christianity. To them the way is fully open ; and some 
of the most powerful chiefs have promised to place their children un- 
der the instruction of the missionaries. The progress of truth, and the 
influence which it uniformly exerts upon external manners, may there- 
fore be speedily expected to abolish many of those distressing and 
cruel practices which are perpetrated by the inhabitants in their pagan 
state. The infliction of death upon the wife on the decease of her 
husband, the slaughter of prisoners taken in war, often to gratify a canni- 
bal appetite, with other customs by which their habitations are made 
' habitations of cruelty,' still prevail in the greater part of the island, 
though happily checked around the mission stations. Notwithstanding 
this ferocity, there are great natural qualities among this people, and 
even a sense of honour and magnanimity. They are industrious, imi- 
tative, and ingenious ; and when brought under the influence of the 
Gospel, and with the advantage of the useful arts, will become an im- 
portant people. These are the probable results which will interest the 
public as men ; but as Christians, the objects are nobler. The truth of 
God, and the means of salvation, will be placed within the reach of a 
million of our fellow men, should the work which has been begun by 
missionary societies be properly supported, and receive the blessing 
of God ; and another people, for ages separated from the human family, 
and ' aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,' be brought within its 
pale, and receive its oracles, its God, and its Saviour." 

After giving some extended and encouraging details concerning the 
progress of Christianity among the negro slaves in the West Indies, 
the writer of the report exclaims, " Such are the cheering prospects 
which this our oldest mission, the mission to the negro slaves in the 
West India colonies, continues to present. On the toils of those who 
commenced the work, and carried it on through great difficulties, 
through calumnies, and reproaches, and misrepresentations, and in 
some instances through personal sufferings and imprisonment, a Chris- 
tian public may look back with triumph. The root of the tree of life 
has struck wide and deep into those lands of darkness and death ; and 


numerous Christian societies, differing in colour from ourselves, but with 
feelings beating in unison with our own to the name and glories of our 
adorable Saviour, 'both their Lord and ours,' sit with grateful joy under 
its shadow. Their labour is lightened by inward peace ; the sanctities 
of home, and the feelings of kindred, have visited the negro hut ; the 
voice of praise is heard in their dwellings ; the Sabbath witnesses 
them with early steps flowing into the houses of prayer, where they 
have heard, and where they feel that ' the same Lord over all is rich 
unto all that call upon him ;' and in instances, not to be numbered till 
the great day of revelation, has the dying negro, once the child of 
African superstition, breathed his spirit into the bosom of our common 
Saviour. The committee need not use great efforts to interest the 
public in such a work; it requires no 'letters of recommendation' be- 
side the marked and glorious facts which it has registered in its own 
story. But when it is stated that it is a work, not only capable of en- 
largement, but which, in its invitations to greater extension, actually 
outruns the present means which the committee possess, and that 
opportunities of extending it to the full supply of religious care to a 
still larger proportion of the many hundred thousands of slaves, 
still in their pagan state, are continually offering themselves, they are 
confident that by this statement they open a scene of future hope to the 
pious mind, which cannot but engage warmer interests and new efforts 
in its behalf. Why should we not put away from us the reproach of 
a long- continued and criminal neglect of a race of our fellow men, em- 
ployed in our toils ; who look up to us as their masters ; call our coun- 
try their home, though they may never see it ; and who have ever repaid 
the cultivation of zeal and piety by harvests so abundant ? Let the 
means of increasing the institutions and ordinances of religion but be 
afforded them by the charity of Christians, and in a few years the last 
dark cloud of pagan gloom shall roll away from the beautiful islands 
which compose the Columbian Archipelago, and the knowledge of the 
Gospel diffuse itself through every plantation, and spread peace, secu- 
rity, harmony, and the blessing of God throughout the whole." 

After some general remarks on the subject of missions, Mr. Watson 
says : — " It is impossible to fix our attention on these astonishing ope- 
rations, with constancy, without catching new ardour, and feeling a 
vast expansion of soul, attempting to equal, but still falling short of, 
the immeasurable designs of redeeming love and power. In this habit 
of thinking and feeling lukewarmness and selfishness can have no 
place ; and it will be sustained by the constant and more perfect de- 
velopement of those designs which must now run on to their accom- 
plishment, until the whole world shall be subdued to our God and 
Saviour. Silently, but swiftly, is the true light penetrating the long- 
accumulated darkness of Africa ; secretly is the influence of true re- 
ligion and European science undermining the vast, the polluted, and 
at one time thought the immovable bulwarks of Indian superstition. 
They are disjointing, and tremble to their fall. A spirit of inquiry 
is excited in some Mohammedan countries, — the first but joyful omen 
of the dissipation of the grand imposture ; the pagan slaves of our colo- 
nies are hastening yearly in great numbers into the Church of Christ ; 
distant islands of the southern sea have cast away their idols, and 
others are beckoning the messengers of God to their shores. The 


circulation of the Scriptures in different tongues is reviving the light, 
and giving life to many fallen and corrupted Churches in different parts 
of Christendom ; while extended school establishments, in various 
parts of the world, are pre-occupying the minds of many thousands of 
the children of pagans with principles opposed to every form of Gen- 
tile error, and to every superstitious practice. Such are the views 
which are now spread before every contemplative mind, interested in 
observing the ' signs of His coming,' to whom, finally, shall be given 
' dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, and nations, and 
languages should serve him : his dominion is an everlasting dominion, 
which shall not pass away ; and his kingdom that which shall not be 

" For the coming of that kingdom, let us more devoutly and fervently 
pray ; knowing that every endeavour of ours at home, and even the 
more important and arduous labours of our brethren abroad, can only 
ripen into successful issues by the special blessing of God. In a spi- 
rit of humble dependence upon him, let all our engagements, whether of 
counsel or exertion, be conducted ; and for those especially who are 
bearing ' the testimony of Jesus' in foreign lands, let us lift up our 
hearts, that they make full proof of their ministry, and in every place 
make ' manifest the savour of the knowledge of Christ,' and present the 
Gentiles an offering to God, ' sanctified by the Holy Ghost.' " 

During the spring of 1821 Mr. Watson visited several large towns in 
different parts of the kingdom, for the purpose of affording assistance 
at the anniversaries of auxiliary and branch missionary societies. He 
also prepared the report of the general society, for the annual meeting, 
which was held at the City-Road chapel, London, on Monday, April 
30th. Colonel Sandys, from India, a tried friend of the society, occu- 
pied the chair on this occasion, in the unavoidable absence of Mr. 
Butterworth, who was in a state of ill health. The applications for 
admission to this meeting were numerous beyond example. Mr. Wat- 
son read the report, which described the prosperous state of the socie- 
ty's affairs. The number of missionaries was increased to nearly one 
hundred and fifty ; the stations occupied were more than one hundred ; 
and upward of twenty-seven thousand members were united in Church 
fellowship, under the care of the missionaries, and the fruit of their 
zealous labour. W H. Trant, Esq., and Colonel Munro, both recently 
returned from India, bore testimony to the necessity of missionary ex- 
ertions in that benighted region, and encouraged the society to more 
extended and vigorous efforts. The Rev. William Ward, of the Bap- 
tist mission at Serampore, then about to return to India, spoke at con- 
siderable length, and in a manner worthy of his high character, both 
as a man of God, and an able missionary. He described in strong 
terms the difficulties with which he and his brethren had to contend 
when they commenced their labours in India. The Hindoos were in 
a wretched condition. " Such was their ignorance and hardness of 
heart," said Mr. Ward, in his emphatical manner, " that, before we 
could make any progress in our work, we had a conscience to create." 
It is difficult to conceive of zeal and piety more pure and elevated, and 
of a catholic spirit more genuine and expansive, than those which ap- 
peared in Mr. Ward upon this occasion. He declared his reliance for 
the success of all missions to be upon the promised effusions of the 


Holy Spirit ; and hence, he connected the progress of the work of God 
abroad with the ceaseless prayers of the Churches at home. In ex- 
pressing his Christian regard for the agents of the society whose cause 
he was then pleading, he said, " The Wesleyan missionaries yield to 
none in love to their Saviour, which is so essentially necessary to keep 
alive the missionary flame. And they yield to none in another grand 
point, which is the freeness of their invitations. Blessed be God, thev 
feel no hesitation in their offers of mercy. This is their darling theme'; 
and it suits the missionary cause extremely well. They depend en- 
tirely upon Divine influence. Their eyes are always fixed on that ; 
and feeling that they are but weak instruments in the hand of God, they 
go forward in their simple career, looking to God for his influence ; 
and, blessed be his holy name, that influence is not withheld." In full 
accordance with these sentiments, Mr. Ward, a few days after this 
meeting, requested as many Wesleyan ministers, then in London, as 
could conveniently attend, to meet him at the mission house in Hatton 
Garden, at a given time, that they might commend him in united prayer 
to the Divine protection during his voyage to India, where he had long- 
laboured ; and that, on resuming his ministry there, it might be render- 
ed abundantly successful by the blessing of the Lord the Spirit. It is 
needless to add, that his request was complied with. The heart of 
Mr. Watson clave to this distinguished missionary ; and their kin- 
dred and sanctified spirits have now met in a happier region, where 
their former anxieties and labours in the cause of Christ are amply 

At the anniversary just referred to, there was an unusual display of 
Christian liberality ; the contributions amounting to upward of one 
thousand pounds. A spirit, of holy triumph and zeal pervaded the 
vast assembly at the public meeting, which was greatly promoted by 
the preparatory religious services. This fact arrested the attention 
of Mr. Watson, and drew from him the following remarks, which he 
inserted in the missionary notices: — "The three sermons, usual on 
this occasion, were this year preached on Thursday and Friday, April 
26th and 27th, in the chapels of City-Road, Queen-street, and 
Lambeth, by the Rev. Messrs. Buckley, Robert Newton, and Lessey, 
jun. We take this opportunity of remarking, that we are more than 
ever convinced of the great importance of connecting such services 
with the public meetings of missionary societies, whether in town or 
country. They greatly tend by the Divine blessing to produce a 
serious and hallowed tone of feeling; to chasten and sanctify that 
high and cheerful excitement which naturally results from the happy 
intercourse of large numbers of friends with each other at these anni- 
versaries, and from the speeches addressed to them, when so assem- 
bled, on some of the most interesting and often delightful topics to 
which the attention of human beings can be directed ; and to maintain 
those great principles by which alone the purity and permanence of 
missionary zeal can be secured, in their proper position of paramount 
authority and obligation, as essentially identified with whatever is 
sacred and amiable in our holy religion, and founded upon the peremp- 
tory injunctions of Divine revelation. For public meetings, as afford- 
ing the very best facilities for the communication of important intelli- 
gence, both as to the incipient success, and as to the still existing 


necessity of missionary labours, we are sincere and decided advocates. 
We believe they are greatly blessed by Almighty God, not only in the 
excitement, but in the proper and efficient direction of benevolent zeal 
and activity ; and that if they were neglected or discouraged, a large 
portion of our present means of doing good must at once be (in our 
judgment, most foolishly and criminally) abandoned. But if mis- 
sionary sermons, without meetings, would leave the work in most 
cases but half done ; we fear, on the other hand, the missionary 
meetings, unconnected with sermons, suited to the solemn occasion, 
and with other special and appropriate exercises of social devotion, 
would soon lose, by such omission, more than half of their present 
blessing to ourselves, and of their eventual utility to those for whose 
illumination and salvation they are principally convened. For the 
various information on missionary topics, and for the free and spirited 
displays of Christian eloquence, which characterize a good public 
meeting, we are best prepared when we take time and pains to ' sanc- 
tify' the whole system ' by the word of God and prayer.' Much of 
this holy influence, we trust, was felt in our late general meeting, as 
the result, under God, of the three annual sermons to which we have 
referred ; and of those which were preached in various chapels on the 
subsequent Sabbath." 

Scarcely had the stir and hurry of this memorable anniversary sub- 
sided before we find Mr. Watson again itinerating through the country, 
as the zealous advocate of the Wesleyan missions, and the bearer of 
intelligence respecting their success and prospects. The following 
letter discloses a part of his plan and proceedings : — 

To Mr. William Walton, Wakefield. 

London, May 4th, 1821. 

My Dear Sir, — In my various wanderings this spring, I have not 
oeen nearer to you than Manchester, or I should have done myself the 
pleasure to call upon a family for whom I feel, and shall continue to 
feel, an unabated respect and affection. 

On Sunday, the 13th, and Monday, the 14th, I shall, God willing, 
be at Sheffield ; and on Tuesday shall have to pass through Wakefield, 
on my way to Bradford, to attend the missionary meeting there at 
two o'clock in the afternoon, and preach in the evening. On the Sun- 
day following I must be at Nottingham ; so that I shall have to pass 
through Wakefield a second time. 

I cannot suffer these opportunities to pass, without spending a few 
hours, either in going or returning, or both, if it were only to say that 
I have a very grateful remembrance of your past kindnesses to me ; 
and that I shall always feel happy in a few hours of your society, and 
that of your excellent family I pray that I may find you all in 
health and peace. 

The bustle of our public meetings in London is nearly over. Our 
own meeting on Monday was a noble one. Two gentlemen from India 
(Mr. Trant, and Colonel Munro) attended, and gave an important testi- 
mony in favour of missions in India ; and assured us that from all 
they had observed, after a long residence in India, the superstitions 
of that country are giving way, and the kingdom of our Lord must be 


Want of time, and very pressing daily engagements, have prevented 
me from writing to you, though I have often intended it. This, 
however, you must impute to any thing rather than want of respect.— 
I have availed myself of every opportunity of inquiring after your 

I have been lately in various parts of the country ; and find that this 
year is one of the most prosperous in the connection, we have for a 
long time had. Many parts of Kent have had extraordinary visita- 
tions. More than two thousand souls have been added to the societies 
in the Potteries of Staffordshire ; at Liverpool six or seven hundred 
have been added; and in many other places there has been great 
prosperity. Thus is the Lord remembering Zion, and building the 
wall in troublous times. 

We have had much sickness in our family since I saw you ; but we 
are all better; though neither Mrs. Watson nor Mary is very well. — 
We have learned, however, I trust, that He who cannot err must do 
all things well. To him be praise and glory. To-morrow I leave 
town for Bristol ; and I shall not be at home again before I see you ; 
as I cross the country, and take Worcester and Birmingham on my 
way to Sheffield. 

My kind regards to Miss Walton and Miss Ann, with my best 
wishes of every kind; and also to my old friends the doctor and 
Mrs. Ellis. 


The Conference of 1821— Letter to Mr. Walton— To his Daughter— Mr. 
Watson's Appointment to the Office of Resident Missionary Secretary — Be- 
comes a private Member of a Class — Letter to the Rev. Robert Young — Mis- 
sionary Tour in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire — Letter to Mrs. Watson — Mr. 
Watson's Contributions to the Wesleyan Magazine — Doctrine of the witness of 
the Spirit — Sermon on Man magnified — Begins to write his Theological Insti- 
tutes — Missionary Report for 1821 — Mission in Ceylon — New-Holland — New- 
Zealand — Western and Southern Africa — Income of the Missionary Society — 
Mr. Watson visits Cornwall — Letter to Mr. Walton. 

Mr. Watson attended the conference of 1821, which was held in 
Manchester, uncertain as to the place where his future lot would be 
cast. At that time London was only divided into two circuits ; and as 
he had been stationed in both of them, he could not, consistently with 
the rules of the connection, be re-appointed to the metropolis as an 
itinerant preacher. The friends in Birmingham were anxious to 
secure his labours, and urgently solicited his appointment to their 
circuit. In consequence of the growing extent and importance of the 
missions, it was necessary that the society should employ a second 
resident secretary, in order to their efficient and successful manage- 
ment : Mr. Watson's long experience, established character as a pub- 
lic man, distinguished ability, and active habits, all pointed him out as 
eminently qualified for that very responsible situation ; and the com- 
mittee pressed the conference to fix him in that station. During the 
sitting of the conference, and while the question of his destination was 


undecided, he addressed the following letter to his excellent and affec- 
tionate friend : — 

To Mr. William Walton, Wakefield. 

Manchester, July, 1821. 

My Dear Friend, — Thinking that it might interest you to know 
how we are going on at conference, I send you a slight sketch. Mr. 
Marsden has been elected president, and Mr. Newton is the secre- 
tary. We are going on well, and harmoniously. The increase in 
the societies has been upward of nine thousand at home, and about 
one thousand three hundred in our foreign missions. Blessed be God! 

Our finances are also very rapidly improving. More than sixty persons 
have offered themselves as travelling preachers, and most of them for 
the missions ; so that we shall have no lack of men, if we can but get 
the money to send and support them. 

Where I shall be placed, I do not yet know ; whether London or 
Birmingham. However, I can say that I only wish to be where I 
may best serve the great cause of Jesus Christ. 

While I am writing, the preachers are speaking of good Mr. Ben- 
son ; and many interesting anecdotes have been mentioned respecting 
his great character and extensive usefulness. " Our fathers, where 
are they T and the prophets do they live for ever ?" May we also be 
ready ! 

I shall, all being well, be at Bradford on Sunday ; but as the presi- 
dent has issued an order that no preacher shall go away on Saturday 
before- the afternoon, and that every one that leaves the town must 
return on Monday morning, I shall not have an opportunity of calling 
to see you, which I should have been most happy to do. However, 
be assured, that whether present or absent, I have an unabated affection 
for you all. May you live daily in the richest enjoyment of the bless- 
ing of the Gospel of peace in all its fulness ! 

Present my kindest regards to Miss Walton, and Miss Ann ; and to 
our mutual friends, Dr. and Mrs. Ellis. I shall be happy to hear from 
you during the conference. 

After the comparative claims of the missions, and of the Birming- 
ham circuit, had been fully heard and balanced in the conference, it 
was determined that Mr. Watson should remain in London, as one of 
the resident secretaries of the Wesleyan Missionary Society ; an office 
which he sustained with the highest credit to himself, and advantage 
to the mission cause, for the space of six successive years. This 
appointment was suited to his declining health ; and it secured to him 
greater leisure than he had enjoyed for several years. His duties 
were, indeed, numerous and urgent ; but he was freed from the cares 
and engagements of the itinerant ministry, and generally spent his 
evenings in his study. The time which he could thus command, he 
devoted to the composition of valuable theological works, by which he 
rendered essential service to the cause of true religion. Higher 
objects were secured by this arrangement than either he or the confer- 
ence at that time anticipated. He surrendered himself in prayer to 
the Divine guidance and direction ; and his confidence was never dis- 
appointed. His way was made plain before him ; and his Lord con- 


ferred great honour upon him, by the labours which were assigned him 
in the Church. 

During the sittings of this conference Mr. Watson addressed the 
following letter to his daughter. It shows the tenderness of his affec- 
tion as a father, and his earnest desire for her mental improvement and 
spiritual interests 

Manchester, July %\st, 1821. 

My Dear Mary, — From one of your uncle's letters I learn that you 
are still at Portsmouth ; and as we are not to remove from London this 
year, I am not anxious about your stay being a little prolonged, as I 
hope it may be favourable to your health, and fit you for closer appli- 
cation on your return. I hope, however, to see you on my return, 
which I expect will be in about a week or ten days. 

The kindness of friends to you I feel as an obligation to myself. — 
Thank them for yourself and me. 

I trust, my dear girl, that you have not neglected to meet in class ; 
nor to remember that the good desires which by the mercy of God you 
have received must be carefully cultivated. In order to this, spend 
some part of your time every day in private, in reading God's holy 
word, and in praying to your Father who seeth in secret. Choose the 
good part, which shall not be taken from you ; and live every day as 
a person who has chosen it. Let your intercourse with others be 
cheerful, but serious ; and let the fear of an all-seeing God never depart 
from you. 

We are getting on pretty well and expeditiously with business, and 
hope soon to come to a conclusion. I write this in conference, and 
have no time for a long epistle. 

God bless you, my dearest child ! 

At this conference Mr. Watson was again requested to write the 
pastoral address to the societies ; and the topics upon which he 
expatiated were of permanent interest, and of the highest possible 

Mr. Watson's colleagues in the missionary secretaryship were his 
friends the Rev. Jabez Bunting, who was also appointed Mr. Benson's 
successor, as the editor of the Methodist Magazine ; and the Rev. 
Joseph Taylor, who resided in the mission house, in Hatton- Garden. 
On his return from the conference Mr. Watson removed from his resi- 
dence in Margaret-street, to a house in Wellington-street, behind the 
chapel-of-ease at Pentonville, This place was a convenient distance 
from the mission house, to which he was accustomed daily to resort, 
for the discharge of his official duties. 

He was now freed from the cares and responsibilities connected with 
the pastoral office, in which he had been accustomed, as a Methodist 
preacher, to take his full share, and was at liberty to direct his entire 
attention to the concerns of the missions, and to literary objects ; but 
there was one inconvenience connected with his new situation which 
caused him some anxiety. He was aware of the intimate connection 
between personal religion, and his own spiritual safety and happiness ; 
and he had long been convinced that nothing under the name of reli- 
gion either corresponds with the representations of Scripture, or meets 
the wants of men, unless it includes the possession and exercise of 


holy and devout affections. One principal means of preserving such 
affections in a state of growing purity and vigour, his own experience 
and observation had shown to be " the communion of saints," maintained 
by united prayer, and by spiritual conversation, according to the apos- 
tolic admonition, " Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, 
as the manner of some is ; but exhorting one another ; and so much 
the more, as ye see the day approaching." As an itinerant preacher, 
Mr. Watson had enjoyed the advantages of Christian fellowship in the 
quarterly visitation of the classes, and other meetings of a similar 
kind ; but in his present situation he was cut off from his former inti- 
mate connection with the societies, and his " pure mind" was no longer 
" stirred up by way of remembrance," as it had formerly been, by regu- 
larly listening to recitals of religious experience. To meet this defi- 
ciency, and with a reference to his own spiritual improvement, he 
entered his name as a private member of a class, under the care of Mr. 
Wright Turnell, which held its weekly meetings at a house in Myddle- 
ton-street, Spafields. Mr. Turnell was an aged Methodist, whose re- 
ligious character had been tried by great vicissitudes of life ; and he 
had invariably maintained his integrity. He could tell many a tale of 
early Methodism, and describe the preaching of the Wesleys, and Mr. 
Fletcher, and Walter Sellon, and their contemporaries ; but that which 
recommended him to Mr. Watson was his deep and simple piety. The 
class consisted mostly of poor people, accustomed to daily labour ; but 
they were spiritual worshippers of God ; their hearts and treasure were 
in heaven ; and they used to meet together weekly, to declare the good- 
ness of the Lord, and to be helpers of each other's joy. With these 
simple-hearted people Mr. Watson was wont to associate once a week, 
in the evening, when his health would permit ; and their meetings, 
unobserved by the world, were often seasons of great spiritual refresh- 
ment and edification. On his appearance in the room, among his 
humble friends, he was generally requested to act the part of the class 
leader ; and it was observed that the advice which he gave to each 
person, after inquiring into his state, was almost always expressed in 
the language of Scripture, in the application of which he possessed a 
remarkable facility. Mr. Turnell lias long since been gathered to his 
fathers ; but some members of the class survive ; and they often refer, 
with considerable emotion, to the time when Mr. Watson belonged to 
their fraternity, took his seat among them as " a brother," and appeared 

" A.n easy, free, and but more.knowing friend." 

The piety of Mr. Watson's heart was observable in the whole of his 
conduct ; and it gave a richness and force to his correspondence with 
the missionaries. One specimen has been already given ; and the 
following is of equal value. It was addressed to an excellent young 
missionary, who had just entered upon his work at Kingston, in 
Jamaica : — 

To the Rev. Robert Young. 

London, Oct. 30th, 1821. 
Dear Brother, — Your safe arrival, and promising entrance upon 
your work, give us pleasure. You have entered upon a very important 


field of labour ; and you will find the following things necessary to 
keep before you. 

1. To speak, preach, and labour, every day, as though it were your 
last on earth ; as though, at the close of it, you were to give up your 
account to your Saviour. 

2. To give part of every day to secret reading of the Scriptures, and 
earnest closet prayer. We must draw from the fountain, before we 
can fill the vessels of others. 

3. To read something useful in practical and doctrinal divinity, &c, 
every day. Let not your books remain unused. By a right applica- 
tion of your time you may accomplish this. 

4. To take care of your pulpit preparations. It is no reason for 
carelessness, that you preach to negroes. It requires more care and 
labour to prepare a plain sermon, clearly explaining important doctrine, 
and so illustrating it as to be beneficial to the ignorant, than to make a 
flashy, rhetorical, empty harangue. Let these preparations be fervently 
prayed over. 

5. To converse much in private with your class leaders, and other 
persons of some standing in the society, in order to promote their 
Christian knowledge and piety ; that they may be props and stays to 
the society. You must, however, do this with dignity, and without 
foolish familiarity. 

6. To visit the sick as much as possible, and catechise children and 
adults. These are blessed exercises, and will not fail to be profitable 
to your own soul, and fruitful to others. 

7. To be always at your work, and in your work, public or private, 
leaving all common and worldly concerns and conversation to others, 
who have not your work to do. 

8. To act in the full spirit of your instructions, whatever others may 
do, and endeavour in all your intercourse with your brethren to pro- 
mote their spirituality and your own by holy converse. Remember to 
keep and send your journal. 

With love to Mrs. Young and the brethren, I am yours truly. 

During the autumn of this year Mr. Watson attended missionary 
meetings at Leeds, Doncaster, Alford, Wainfleet, and Retford, where 
he pleaded the good cause with encouraging effect, and gladdened the 
Hearts of the people by his eloquence, and statements of past success ; 
and his own spirit was greatly cheered by the displays of Christian 
zeal and liberality which every where met his view. While he 
imparted pleasure to others, he suffered greatly from feebleness and 
disease. In what state of health he prosecuted these labours will 
partly appear from the following letter, which was addressed to Mrs. 
Watson : — 

Wainfleet, Thursday evening 
My Dearest Mary, — Through Divine mercy I have been brought 
on my journey to this place, and have got through my work, though 
with difficulty. My lungs have been very tender, and sometimes I 
have been very feeble ; but, upon the whole, I am not worse, and, I 
think, a little better; and begin to hope that I shall get through all 
my appointments. At Raithby Hall I have been treated with great 
tenderness by Mrs. Brackenbury, who has been with me in her car- 


riage to all the missionary meetings in the neighbourhood ; and taken 
me back, nursing me with great care. Thank God for these comforts, 
when they are so welcome. I have been a little low sometimes ; 
but, upon the whole, I have rested on God, and felt that he was 
with me. 

I shall write again, God willing, from Leeds ; and, with care, I trust 
I shall get comfortably through. To-morrow I join the steam packet 
to Lincoln, and on Saturday go to Retford. 

The weather has been mild and beautiful, which has been much in 
my favour. 

My love to the dear children who, I hope, are diligent in their 
studies. If you write on Monday, I shall get your letter on Wednesday. 
Do not fail. 

May you be kept in health and peace under the protection of our 
blessed Saviour. Remember me in your prayers. I am yours very 
truly and ever affectionately. 

From the time of his first appointment to London Mr. Watson had 
occasionally furnished contributions to the Methodist Magazine ; and 
when a new series of that work was commenced, under the very able 
editorship of Mr. Bunting, in the year 1822, his assistance became still 
more efficient and regular, especially in the review department, for 
which he was admirably qualified. He could at once seize upon 
the argument of an ample volume, and appeared almost intuitively to 
perceive what was erroneous in principle, or inconclusive in reasoning. 
The readiness with which he could always express his conceptions 
often rendered his services of this kind rather an amusement than a 
labour to himself; while the originality, the strength, the eloquence of 
his compositions commanded the admiration of all competent judges, 
and gave to that periodical a more elevated character than it had ever 
previously possessed. The same kind assistance he continued, as his 
health and other engagements would allow, to the end of his life. 

For several years Mr. Watson's pen had been scarcely ever unem- 
ployed ; but his publications, though exceedingly valuable in their 
kind, were mostly single sermons, controversial pamphlets, and mis- 
sionary reports and periodicals. He had, however, cherished the 
design of writing something of a more permanent character, and in 
which his theological knowledge and reading might be brought to bear ; 
and he remarked to his friend Mr. Carr, of Leicester, that he thought 
the time for entering upon it was now come. His comparative leisure 
was favourable ; and having passed the age of forty years, his mental 
faculties were matured. He recollected the disadvantages which be- 
set his path, when he first went into a Methodist circuit, and entered 
upon the study of divinity ; he was aware that many of his junior 
brethren were then in the same circumstances ; and he expressed 
a wish to write something that would assist them in obtaining an 
accurate and comprehensive acquaintance with the entire system of 
evangelical truth, and with the evidence upon which every vital doc- 
trine is grounded. After considerable deliberation, he resolved to 
write a body of Christian theology ; and to this work he now devoted 
all the time which he could command. The success with which he 
executed this project will appear in the course of this narrative. The 


subject is mentioned here, because at this period he entered upon the 
arduous task which he had assigned to himself. He appears to 
have formed his plan, and begun to write in the autumn of the year 
1821 ; and in about eighteen months from that period the first part was 

In the missionary report for the year 1821, which was put into cir- 
culation early in the spring of the following year, it is said, " The com- 
mittee have hitherto had the satisfaction to present their annual report 
of the state and prospects of the Wesleyan missions, with the most 
lively feelings of gratitude for past successes, and hope as to the future. 
These sentiments have suffered no abatement ; for never were the 
committee able to review the proceedings of a year with greater plea- 
sure ; and never did prospects more cheering present themselves as 
incitements to future exertion. To God be all the praise !" 

After a minute description of each station occupied by the Wesleyan 
missionaries in the east, it is said, " Such are the general state and 
prospects of our missions in Ceylon and continental India; and view- 
ing them in connection with the extensive exertions of other mission- 
ary societies, to diffuse the light of evangelical truth through that popu- 
lous and interesting portion of the globe, the committee cannot refrain 
from congratulating the friends of missions in general on the animating 
prospects which present themselves in so many parts of this region of 
the earth. A very few years ago an almost unbroken mass of pagan 
darkness hung over the millions of its inhabitants ; and scarcely were 
Christians themselves bold enough to hope that the day of visitation in 
mercy was at hand. But the seed, sown at first with many tears, is 
every where springing up, under skies brightening every year with 
the rays of truth, and watered by dews of the Divine blessing. 
Inquiry, the great enemy of delusion, has been awakened ; many of 
the educated natives venture both to question and attack, in their con- 
versations and writings, the grossest of the popular superstitions ; 
numerous schools are implanting those principles in the minds of many 
thousands of the youth, which must unsettle and destroy the prejudices 
of ages ; numerous Christian missionaries, of different denominations, 
full of faith and love, are daily circulating the holy volume, and 
preaching its saving truths ; and societies of Christians, not in name 
only, but who have received the grace of God in truth, are now found 
in different parts of these regions of paganism, and spread around them 
the illuminations of Divine light. If this has been the result of so 
short a period, the work, by the blessing of God, must henceforth go 
on with accelerated activity and success. Already the formidable 
structure of the superstitions of India nods to its fall." 

The report announces the formation of a mission to the natives of 
New-Holland, whose case is thus described : " The committee sent out 
a missionary to the aboriginal natives of New-Holland, many of whom 
roam about in the neighbourhood of the settlements, and have acquired, 
though imperfectly, the English language. Such an enterprise derives 
a special interest from the excessive degradation of this branch of the 
human family. None have sunk so low ; and none, therefore, so greatly 
need the only power which can awaken the torpor of their minds, and 
conquer their savage habits, — the power of religion ; and among none, 
when thus elevated into men, and restored to God, will the triumphs of 


the Gospel be more illustrious. Infidelity may despair of raising the 
embruted tribes of the fallen race, because it sees not the relations in 
which they stand to God, their Maker and Redeemer ; but the Christian 
knows that they are both men, and redeemed men ; and that those branches 
of a disobedient family which have wandered into ' a far country,' and 
have been reduced to the most degrading servitude, shall at length ' come 
to themselves,' and say, ' I will arise and go to my father.' It is true 
that in all attempts to benefit such a people, the agents must eminently 
' walk by faith, and not by sight-' yet is the one as certain as the other, 
when it grounds itself upon the word of God. That word has com- 
manded the Gospel to be ' preached to every creature ;' and as the 
natives of New-Holland are thus included in the care of their Savioxir, 
we doubt not this attempt to benefit them will meet with his blessing. 
The case of these wretched men has been laid upon the hearts of the 
pious in the colony, and earnest appeals have been made in their 
behalf, with a view of producing a systematic effort for their religious 
instruction ; and, in consequence, some means have been adopted for 
that purpose. With those who have thus commenced the benevolent 
work, the missionary sent out is instructed to co-operate, and to follow 
any plans which may appear most conducive to the end. His first 
effort will be among those who lie nearest the settlements, whose 
children especially he will endeavour to bring under a course of useful 
and religious instruction. As this will come in aid of the anxious and 
benevolent attempts of the governor, to extend to them the advantages 
of civilization, we doubt not but that it will receive his encourage- 

This benevolent project failed for the time, in consequence of the un- 
faithfulness of the missionary to whom the work was assigned. Instead 
of pursuing the objects of his mission in the spirit of faith and prayer, 
and keeping steadily in view the salvation of the people for whose in- 
struction in Christianity he had been solemnly set apart, he contracted a 
passion for farming ; and left the people to perish in ignorance and sin, 
while he devoted his attention to the breeding of cattle ! It is needless 
to add, that the noble character of a Christian missionary was soon laid 
aside. The course pursued by this unhappy man gave Mr. Watson no 
small degree of pain and sorrow. 

This report announces the commencement of the mission to New- 
Zealand, under the direction of Mr. Leigh, who had already visited that 
region, conversed largely with the natives, and had excited an interest 
in their favour by the statements which he had made respecting their 
manners and habits at various public meetings in England. " Special 
instructions," it is said, " have been given by the committee to the mis- 
sionaries appointed to New-Zealand, to direct their conduct in a new 
and trying situation, as far as the probable circumstances in which they 
may be placed could be anticipated : especially they have been in- 
structed to avoid any interference with the civil affairs of the natives, 
except to promote their industry and civilization by teaching them 
useful arts ; and a peremptory rule has been enforced upon them, on 
no account to make use of warlike weapons of any kind, as articles of 

" These new enterprises the committee commend to the earnest 
prayers of the society ; that the brethren and their intrepid wives, now 
Vol. I. 17 


on the great deep, may have ' a prosperous voyage by the will of God ;' 
that they may be preserved from the violence of savage and lawless 
men, and that a great and effectual door may be opened among the 
Gentiles, for the reception of that Gospel which will humanize their 
manners, change their ferocious dispositions, and plant among them 
the great principles of public justice, peace, and order, and of private 
and domestic happiness." 

In regard to Western Africa, it is said, " A scene more delightful to 
humanity is scarcely exhibited through the vast extent of the mission- 
ary field than the colony of Sierra-Leone. Here the interesting spec- 
tacle is presented before the nations of the earth, of a Christian colony 
calling the attention of the inhabitants of a vast continent, whose com- 
merce has been for ages the flesh and the bones of men, and those 
men their brethren, to the peaceful arts, and the cultivation of the 
ground ; and opening its friendly shores, and extending its protection 
and care, to those unhappy negroes who, seized by their own oppres- 
sive governments, and purchased by the avarice of Europeans, have 
been arrested on their voyage by British cruisers, and liberated from 
their floating prisons. But these triumphs of hallowed power and 
Christian justice are surmounted by the triumphs of religion. Among 
these pagan negroes missionaries have most successfully taught the 
principles of Christianity, and many interesting societies of true Chris- 
tians have been raised up among a people who, by an overruling Pro- 
vidence, have been rescued from slavery, and brought within a Christian 
colony. What the ultimate results may be on the spread of religion 
in Africa, cannot well be estimated ; but the effects must be great. 
The light will not be confined to Sierra-Leone. Those who have ob- 
tained mercy will not hide this truth within their hearts ; and into those 
various and distant regions where their affairs may conduct them, they 
will carry the name and the truth of Christ." 

Concerning another part of the African continent it is added, " Every 
thing in South Africa is hopeful as to those glorious results which 
form the subjects of the prayers and hopes of the friends of missions, 
and of this quarter of the globe in particular. Among the interesting 
circumstances of the missions in that part of the world, is the harmony 
of affection and effort which exists among the missionaries of differ- 
ent societies. In the past year two or three journeys have been made 
by some of our own missionaries and those of the London society in 
connection, for the purpose of exploring the condition of distant tribes, 
and to search for new fields of difficult labour. A moral scene more 
truly sublime and impressive can scarcely be contemplated, than a few 
missionaries of different denominations, rising above the jealousies of 
mere party, and intent only upon enlarging the boundaries of light and 
mercy, traversing the dreary desert, cheerfully submitting to heat and 
cold, weariness and hunger, and joining themselves to the society of 
men in the lowest state of cultivation, unelevated by intellect, and un- 
corrected by moral influence, in order to offer them benevolent assist- 
ance. Such was the nature of these journeys ; and every where 
access to the heathen was found practicable. The hallowed name of 
missionary of Jesus Christ had travelled across the desert with non °" r > 
and was their introduction to a friendly though rude hospitality. What 
is more, through what the committee think they have reason to con- 


sider the preparing influence of God, those heathen, to whom the face 
of a white man was a strange sight, earnestly desired the residence of 
missionaries among them, and an eager desire for Christian instruc- 
tion. New calls for missionaries are heard from tribes long hidden 
from the compassionate eye of the Christian Church ; and it remains 
for the religious public to determine, by its subscriptions, whether this 
call from ' regions beyond,' where Christ is not named, ' Come over 
and help us,' shall be made in vain. Southern Africa is now present- 
ing its population before the Christianity of this country. Every tra- 
veller confirms the account of immense numbers of people totally 
involved in pagan ignorance and superstition ; yet docile ; willing to 
receive the help which may be afforded ; and, in some instances, anx- 
iously imploring it. No difficulty exists, but which the heroism of 
devoted missionaries is ready to surmount ; no labours or privations 
are too severe for them to submit to, in order to accomplish their glo- 
rious object. Shall there then be, on the one hand, men willing to 
carry out the light and consolations of the Gospel, and, on the other, 
numerous people willing to receive them ; and, above all, does this 
their willingness bear marks of the Divine hand, thus opening a great 
and an effectual door ; and shall ' the messengers of the Churches' be 
prevented from proclaiming peace on these mountains, and crying to 
the inhabitants of their valleys, ' Behold your God V The committee 
cannot indeed doubt, that additional exertions among the friends of 
Christ will enable them to support the work begun, and to embrace 
those new openings and opportunities for the spread of our Divine 
religion which Africa, now so eminently remembered by her God, 

According to this report eleven missionaries, several of whom were 
married, were sent out by the committee in the course of the year ; 
and the income of the society for the same period was £26,581. 145. 
8d. ; yet it is added, " Notwithstanding the above liberal contributions, 
which have considerably exceeded those of any former year, the ex- 
penditure of the society has been so large as to leave a balance due to 
the general treasurers, amounting to .£7,568. 5*. lOd. : a large sum, 
which might create some uneasiness, had not the committee the utmost 
confidence that this extending work will not be suffered to want that 
aid which shall not only support it on its present scale, but greatly 
enlarge it into the dominions of darkness and misery. 

" For the liberality of the past year the committee offer their grate- 
ful acknowledgments to the friends of the society. To the exertions 
of the collectors, the officers of the auxiliary and branch societies, and 
to those ministers who have in so many instances exerted themselves 
to plead the cause of our Lord and Saviour, and to supply the means 
of sending forth his everlasting Gospel, their best thanks are due, and 
are here rendered. 

" The interests of the society are again left in their hands, and laid 
upon their hearts, with all those urgent claims upon their compassion 
and efforts which have been adverted to. More blessed have they felt 
it to give than to receive ; and like their great Master they have, 
through his grace, determined ' not to faint, nor be discouraged, till 
judgment is set in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his law.' 
Many congregations and societies have not yet taken their full share 


in this work ; but when the appeal is made to them, we doubt not that 
it will be successful. Every principle acknowledged in the very pro- 
fession of Christ forbids us to anticipate the contrary ; for can it be 
that any member of a Christian society, in the full enjoyment of ' all 
the statutes and ordinances of the Lord, — of all the means of saving 
health, and consolation, and hope, — can be indifferent to so many millions 
entirely destitute of all these blessings ; and that he should decline to be 
employed in the work for which his Saviour died and rose again, when 
in so many ways missionary societies offer to his liberality, his influ- 
ence, and his efforts, the opportunity of proving the truth of his own 
Christianity, and, in the highest sense, of blessing his fellow creatures ? 
It cannot be ; and if ministers and people make the trial, they will find 
in every circuit hearts to answer the call, when it is once sounded in 
the ears of the Churches, and hands to pour into the common fund a 
cheerful and a constant charity. Again those circuits where societies 
have not been formed are entreated to come up to our help ; and to 
have confidence in God and his people, that they shall not fail to ac- 
complish the formation and support of important auxiliaries and branches 
which shall attach the religious societies by which they may be con- 
ducted more intimately with the general Church of Christ, and bring 
upon them that special blessing which is promised to faithful and labo- 
rious servants. 

" In conclusion we commend all our efforts to the blessing of God. 
In the spirit of prayer and dependence upon him let every part of this 
sacred work be conducted ; and by the word of God and prayer it 
shall be sanctified. Whether we labour in private, or on these high 
occasions assemble in public, ever be it remembered by us, that with- 
out him nothing is wise, or strong, or holy. To him be glory in the 
Church throughout all ages. Amen." 

As the spring of this year advanced, and about the time at which 
this report was published, Mr. Watson visited the principal towns in 
Cornwall, attended by the Rev. Messrs. Reece and Joseph Taylor, 
preaching, and attending missionary meetings. He commenced his 
tour about the middle of February, and returned to London in March. 
The attendance in all places was exceedingly crowded ; the collec- 
tions at the public services were liberal ; and the sums reported, as the 
contributions of each society, exceeded those of any former year. In 
some instances the increase was very large. The interest manifested 
by the vast congregations who assembled to sympathize with the mise- 
ries of the heathen world, and to hail the multiplying triumphs of the 
Gospel, was evidently deep and ardent, and gave an encouraging 
pledge that the cause of missions would never want warm and liberal 
friends among the people of Cornwall, who had been among the first to 
espouse the cause, and whose numerous and spacious places of wor- 
ship, and large religious societies, were proofs of the efficacy of the 
Gospel. Such were the sentiments with which Mr. Watson returned 
from this laborious excursion. He found the Cornish preachers and 
people of one heart in this blessed work. 

On his return from Cornwall he began to prepare for a journey into 
the north, for the purpose of attending missionary anniversaries at some 
of the principal towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire ; but he was again 
assailed by disease in a somewhat new form. The following letter 


describes his situation with a degree of playfulness, which those pe'rr 
sons will well understand who are just recovering from the complaint 
in question : — 

To Mr. William Walton Wakefield. 

London, April 1st, 1822. 

My Dear Friend, — Two reasons have delayed an answer to your 
kind letter : first, it arrived when I was in Cornwall ; second, that 
since the day after my return, I have been laid up with the gout ; and 
the attack has been so sharp, that for near three weeks I have been 
confined to the sofa, not being able to take a step. I am now, however, 
so rapidly improving, that I begin to feel it a matter of tolerable 
certainty, that I shall be able to set off on my journey to Manchester 
at the latter end of the week ; or that, at all events, I shall reach 
Wakefield on the Wednesday before the meeting. 

You will probably smile at my having the gout ; but so it is ; and 
no pleasant companion, I assure you, though kings and nobles so often 
make acquaintance with it. My general health, I thank God, is much 

I shall again be most happy to see my old and beloved friends ; and 
trust that we shall not meet together at the anniversary of your society 
in vain. 

Our accounts from abroad are generally favourable. The work of 
God appears to his servants, in many parts of the heathen world ; and 
his glory will, we trust, descend upon their children. Sickness and 
death have, however, made great inroads in many of our stations. We 
have lost seven missionaries in the West Indies, during the year ; and 
four are disabled in India. 

Present my kind regards to Miss Walton, and to Doctor and Mrs. 
Ellis, — friends always valued, — and to Mr. Woolmer. 


Mr. Watson's spirit at Missionary Anniversaries — Anniversary of the Mission, 
ary Society in 1822 — Speech of the Rev. George Collison — Instruction of Mis- 
sionaries — Letters to Dr. Ellis — Letter to the Rev. Elijah Hoole — Missionary 
Report for the year 1822 — Letter to Dr. Ellis — Mr. Watson publishes the first 
part of his Theological Institutes — Anniversary of the Missionary Society in 
1823 — Letter to Dr. Ellis — Letter to Mr. Walton — The Rev. Messrs. Sargent and 
Lloyd killed on their way to the Conference — Letter to Mr. Walton — Letter to 
Miss Walton, on the Death of her Sister — Death of the Rev. William Ward — 
Projected Mission in Palestine — Letter to Dr. M' Allum — The Rev. Charles Cook's 
Visit to Jerusalem — Mr. Watson writes in Defence of the Witness of the Spirit 
— His Sermon on "Man Magnified by the Divine Regard" — Letter on Organs in 
Methodist Chapels. 

With Mr. Watson the anniversaries of missionary societies were 
not seasons of unhallowed levity, but were often connected in his mind 
with deep and solemn feeling. That so large a portion of the human 
race remained unevangelized, and that millions of mankind, redeemed 
and immortal, should be hastening to their final account under all the 
guilt and corruption of their fallen nature, aggravated by the intellectual 


and sensual pollutions of idolatry, appeared to him to call for humilia- 
tion and shame on the part of the Christian Church. The cheerfulness 
therefore which he felt at the sight of old friends, still engaged in the 
service of God ; and the grateful joy which he cherished because of 
past success, and the displays of Christian liberality which it was often 
his privilege to witness ; were chastened and tempered by the 
remembrance of past neglects. He was accustomed to pray that those 
neglects might be forgiven ; that God would accept the contributions 
and services of his people ; and that success might attend their future 
efforts. This spirit he often succeeded in infusing among the people ; 
so that missionary meetings became means of improvement in personal 
godliness. In announcing the anniversary of the general society, to 
be held in London in the year 1822, he inserted the following pious 
suggestions, which were in fact the predominating sentiments of his 
heart. They appeared in the missionary notices for April. " We beg 
leave to direct the attention of the friends of our missions in general to 
the arrangement of the regular services connected with the approach- 
ing anniversary of the society. From the general aspect of the accounts 
received through the year, we hope to meet, to unite with our mutual 
congratulations our devout thanksgivings to God for the success with 
which the Lord of the harvest has been pleased to crown the efforts of 
his labourers, and for those encouragements which are offered for new 
enterprises for the extension of the kingdom of our Lord to yet unvisited 
regions of darkness and misery. In these delightful exercises we trust 
to be joined by many of our friends from different parts of the country. 
May we all meet in the deep spirit of sympathy for a world of which 
so great a part is still sitting in darkness, and the shadow of death ; and 
unite in prayers more solemn, earnest, and prevailing, for the larger 
effusions of that Divine influence which alone can render successful 
human efforts for the conversion and salvation of the souls of men !" 

The anniversary was conducted in that spirit of piety which was 
anticipated. The following account was written by Mr. Watson him- 
self: — " We are happy to say, that the pleasing anticipations respect- 
ing this anniversary, which we were led to express in our number for 
April, have been fully realized. The friends of the Wesleyan missions 
have again assembled from various parts of the country, to listen to a 
report which was eminently calculated to call forth their humble thanks- 
givings for the encouragements of the past year ; and have solemnly 
renewed, under a more than ordinary influence from above, and with 
feelings of increased compassion for perishing souls, their pledges of 
fidelity to his holy cause. 

" A public prayer meeting was held at the City-Road chapel, at six 
o'clock in the morning of the 26th, for the purpose of specially implor- 
ing the Divine blessing on the anniversary, and on Christian missions 
throughout the world. This was found, by the ministers and people 
who attended it, to be a most edifying and delightful addition to the 
usual services of the occasion ; and we strongly recommend that, 
wherever it is practicable, a similar meeting should always be included 
in the arrangements made for the anniversaries of auxiliary societies. 
We are persuaded that prayer — solemn, fervent, united prayer — is 
among the most necessary and most powerful of those means by which 
Christians are now peculiarly called to promote the work and cause of 


God'; and that, in fact, without an increase in their prayers, in connec- 
tion with the continuance and augmentation of their pecuniary contribu- 
tions, the grand object of our common hope and effort, the conversion 
of the world, will never be accomplished. We rejoice, therefore, in 
every indication of a growing spirit of supplication among those who 
take an active part in missionary institutions." 

Mr. Butterworth presided at the annual meeting of the society ; the 
report was read by Mr. Watson ; and addresses were delivered by 
Admiral Lord Gambier ; James Stephen, jun., Esq. ; Dr. Adam Clarke ; 
J. Herbert Harrington, Esq., from India ; Dr. Steinkopff ; the Rev. 
George Collison, of Hackney ; the Rev. Samuel Lowel, of Bristol ; 
Lieutenant Gordon ; the Rev. George Marsden ; the Rev. Henry 
Moore ; the Rev. John James ; Francis Marris, Esq., of Manchester ; 
the Rev. Theophilus Blumhardt, of the missionary institution at Basle ; 
James Wood, Esq., of Manchester, and others. There was an inci- 
dent connected with the speech of Mr. Collison, which is worth 
recording, as characteristic of the kind and liberal spirit of that excel- 
lent man. On the morning of that day Mr. Collison had called on a 
friend, who informed him that he had recently received property as a 
residuary legatee ; and in looking over the account, he found, to his 
great regret, that a part of it arose from the sale of slaves, in the Bay 
of Honduras. " He is too deeply imbued, sir," said Mr. Collison, 
" with the principles of the Gospel, to receive the price of blood ; and 
he said to me, ' I am shocked at the sight of it. What shall I do with 
it V I said, ' I will tell you what you may do with part of it. I am 
going to the Wesleyan missionary meeting ; their labourers are greatly 
occupied among the slaves.' Since I have been here I have heard 
with much pleasure, that you have determined on a mission to the 
very spot, the Bay of Honduras ; and I have now the pleasure of pre- 
senting the sum, so received from my friend, to forward that desirable 
purpose. It is upward of seventeen pounds. I wish it were seven- 
teen hundred !" 

The subscriptions and donations received at this anniversary 
amounted to upward of twelve hundred pounds. 

When the services connected with the missionary anniversary in 
London were over, Mr. Watson visited the west of England, where he 
attended public meetings, and preached missionary sermons at Bristol, 
Tiverton, and Frome. At each of these places he was received with 
cordial affection ; but that which afforded him the highest gratification 
was, the spirit of zeal and liberality with which he every where saw 
the mission cause supported. 

One of the important objects to which Mr. Watson directed his 
attention, after he became one of the resident secretaries to the mis- 
sionary society, was the theological training of the missionaries prepa- 
ratory to their entrance upon their foreign work. Some of them 
resided in his family ; and the greater part of them were put upon a 
course of reading and study under his direction. Among his papers 
are copious memoranda of lectures in theology, which appear to have 
been addressed to those interesting young men who from time to time 
left their native country, under the direction of the Wesleyan Mission- 
ary Society, that they might "preach among the Gentiles the un- 
searchable riches of Christ." A course of instruction in literature 


and general knowledge, was provided for them by different masters, 
but their theological training was conducted by Mr. Watson himself • 
and few men were better qualified for the responsible task. The 
instruction of the missionary candidates, the discharge of his official 
duties as missionary secretary, occasional attendance upon the anni- 
versaries of missionary societies in the country, and the writing of his 
great theological work, and supplying articles for the Wesleyan Maga- 
zine, occupied the whole of his time ; and notwithstanding the general 
delicacy of his health, and frequent attacks of illness, he went through 
his various duties and engagements in a manner which was highly 
honourable to himself, and commanded the admiration of all the parties 
with whom he was connected. The following letters show the cir- 
cumstances under which he entered upon the year 1823. They were 
addressed to his kind friends, Dr. and Mrs. Ellis, late of Hull, but then 
resident at Wakefield ; the doctor having been appointed physician to 
the county asylum, recently erected near that town. They had pressed 
him, in his infirm state of health, to pay them a visit, and take up a 
temporary residence with them. 

London, January 4th, 1823. 

My Dear Friend, — Your very kind and obliging invitation of a 
poor invalid has greatly affected me ; and I would sooner have said 
how much I am sensible of your and Mrs. Ellis's friendship, but that 
my state has been so precarious. I most sincerely thank you. 

The complaint itself appears to have been subdued; but the debility 
which has ensued has been very great ; yet I trust that I am in the 
course of improvement. I am too green to venture on a journey yet, 
had I not had also another, but slight, attack of the gout in the foot. — 
This will, I think, be very temporary ; and should it please God to 
raise me to a strength sufficient to travel, in a few weeks, I will accept 
your kindness, and give myself, by full relaxation, and your advice, 
and the blessing of God upon both, a chance of full restoration. 

Our family afflictions have been increased by a visitation of the 
scarlet fever. Mary has had a very severe attack, and a little 
nephew. Whether Tom will escape is doubtful. Mrs. Watson is 
quite worn down. 

In the midst of all we know that all is right, and that all is good. — 
Thank God for the consolation ! 

I will write to you a week before I set off, which I take will not be 
this month. The sooner the better I believe for myself ; but I must 
get my gouty foot into something like coach trim. 

Wishing you, with the new year, renewed and multiplied blessings, 
I am, dear sir, yours most obliged and truly. 

P S. I have long had a kind of feeling that the warm bath would, 
under judicious regulation, be of great service to me. Perhaps you 
will be kind enough to think of that against I have the pleasure to see 
you. Mrs. Watson unites in love and thanks. 

To the Same. 

London, Jan. 27th, 1823. 
My Dear Friends, — The severity of the weather would alone 
prevent you from expecting me to fulfil my own purpose, and to meet 


your friendly invitation, in visiting Wakefield. Had it been other- 
wise, I have not, however, been movable to so great a distance. Till 
the last fortnight my debility increased ; and I certainly was never 
brought so low in my life. Since then I have been under the tonic 
and restorative process ; and, with now and then a slip back, have 
been improving. 

I trust that in this affliction I have learned something, though slow 
of heart to understand and to believe. The complaint, as you know, 
is accompanied with no small degree of pressure on the spirits. I, at 
least, have found it so. I have thought of dying, and leaving my 
family at a crisis when they seemed most to need me ; or of living a 
poor, helpless invalid, in the poverty and neglect of a supernumerary 
preacher ; and many more of these saddening reflections have crowded 
in at different times. But to feel in the midst of every sinking, that 
you could set your foot upon a rock, and stand secure, this is the 
privilege of faith ; and, I thank God, I have it. However, I trust that 
something brighter is opening ; and that, with great care, I shall be 
efficient, in a tolerable degree, a few years longer; and live only for 
what life is worth, — to acquire a deeper acquaintance with God, and 
to be useful to men. 

I feel it a relief to be able to read and write. I am getting on with 
my new publication, and hope to have the first part from the press in 
March or April. 

I thought I ought to inform you how I was going on, lest you 
should think I neglected your kind invitation ; and this must be my apo- 
logy for a letter on that very poor subject — self. I hope to be able to 
accomplish the journey to Wakefield when the weather becomes more 
mild and settled, and when I have got up the hill a little farther. At 
present I do not go out ; nor have I left the house for the last six weeks. 

Mr. Garbutt, our mutual friend, called last week, and spent an eve- 
ning ; and we had the pleasure of talking about you and Mrs. Ellis, 
with mutual feelings of respect and affection. 

With kind regards to Mrs. Ellis and your son, and Mr. and Miss 
Walton, &c, &c. 

To the Same. 

London, February Wth, 1823. 

My Dear Friend, — I write in a state of mortification, at a disap- 
pointment. My medical attendants have declared against my going 
northward in my present state of debility, and have ordered' me to 
Brighton, to perfect what, I thank God, is a state of slowly returning 
strength. The missionary committee took up the subject, and backed 
them ; and in vain I urged that, though the air might be cooler, yet 
the friends I should visit were warmer, and that the inward enjoyment 
would make up all. To Brighton, therefore, I am driven ; and my 
place is taken for to-morrow. However, the kind invitation of my dear 
friends will not lose its impression upon my mind and heart ; and some 
time in the spring I hope (less an invalid than now) to spend a week 
with you. This I shall make an object ; as I must, if possible, go 
down to Nottingham on business before June. 

I thank God for the prospect of better health than before my attack : 
at least there are very favourable indications of it. 


With best wishes and prayers, and with very grateful feelings to you 
and Mrs. Ellis, &c, &c. 

Under the pressure of severe personal suffering, Mr. Watson kept 
up a regular correspondence with the missionaries abroad, giving them 
advice and encouragement as the case of each might require. Some 
admirable specimens of his letters to the men who were teaching the 
heathen Christianity in foreign climes have already been given. The 
following was written at this period, and was addressed 

To the Rev. Elijah Hoole, at Madras. 

London, Jan. 29th, 1823. 

My Dear Brother, — We do not hear from you as often as we 
could wish ; but we are very happy to hear of your health, your suc- 
cessful study of Tamul, and your pleasure in your work. 

With respect to the first of these, be careful. Some need the spur, 
and others the rein. You, I believe, are of the latter and more honour- 
able class. Mingle exercise with study; pursue nothing to great 
weariness ; and be attentive to early rest and early rising. If you 
will make haste, make haste slowly, as ancient wisdom has taught us 
both in Greek and Latin. You will work better and longer. 

You feel, I doubt not, the pleasure and profit of Madras ; but when 
Mr. England arrives, we really think you ought to lay hold fully and 
finally of Scringapatam ; and let it no longer be trifled with. It is 
certainly to be preferred to Bangalore ; because the missionary may 
be working, while he is gaining the language ; and when Bangalore 
can be occupied by another, a regular exchange may take place. — 
Suppose a. good native assistant could be got from the north of Ceylon 
to go with y ou > it might be of service ; unless that kind of help can be 
more usefully employed at Negapatam, to push out the work into the 
neighbourhood. The people of the old Danish mission, who are in 
some state of preparation, will, I hope, be gathered in by us : I mean, 
those of them who are " as sheep having no shepherd." 

We have not much English news. The reports will, I hope, be 
ready for Mr. England to take with him. The connection is at peace, 
and generally, I think, in prosperity. To God be the praise ! 

P S. It may encourage you all to learn, that not only do our funds 
increase, as you will see by the report, but that we have reason to con- 
clude that missionaries and their work are more constantly and earnestly 
prayed for. Praying missionaries abroad, and a praying people at 
home, this is what we want more perfectly. May God pour the Spirit 
of grace and supplication upon us every where ! 

A few weeks after this letter was written, the annual report, to 
which it refers, made its appearance. Its important details are thus 
introduced : — 

" Thexiopmittee have had to struggle with financial difficulties ; and 
unlooked-fdr visitations of sickness and death among the missionaries, 
on various stations, have occurred ; but, in the midst of all, they have 
the happiness to report the general prosperity, or promise, of the great 
work which was committed to their superintendence. 



" Since the publication of the last report of the society, the following 
missionaries have been sent out to different parts of the world : — 

"Mr. White, and Mr. and Mrs. Turner, to New-Zealand; Mr. 
Powell, to St. Vincent's ; and Mr. Edmondson, to Grenada. 

" The number of persons in religious society, in the different foreign 
stations, is twenty-nine thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight ; being 
an increase in the year of one thousand and eighty members. The 
number of missionaries employed by the society, exclusive of cate- 
chists, but including several native assistants, is one hundred and fifty- 

The income of the society for the year is stated to be £31,748. 
9*. lid. 

Mr. Watson's health continued in a very infirm state through the 
winter ; but as the spring approached, he speaks of himself as con- 
valescent, and meditated a journey into Yorkshire. Thus he writes to 
his friend : — 

To William Ellis M. D., Wakefield. 

Lo?idon, April 1st, 1823. 

My Dear Friend, — Being, by Divine mercy, so far restored, that I 
can do a little work, though I dare not enterprise much, I will endea- 
vour to meet your wishes to attend the missionary service at Wakefield, 
in connection with Nottingham. I can take a Sunday evening service, 
if I only remain as well as 1 am at present ; and I hope for increasing 

I was sorry to hear of your and Mrs. Ellis's indisposition, which I 
hope is but temporary ; and that, among all your visitations, your toes 
may escape ; for inability to walk would be as inconvenient to you as 
to me. Mine are very tender ; and I never walked so carefully, I 
assure you. 

In the best things we can have no let or hinderance but what is 
voluntary ; and it is wonderful power given to man, to command a 
" peace which passeth understanding ;" " glory, honour, and immor- 
tality !" How much better has God dealt with us than we should have 
dealt with ourselves ! We would have at our command health, friends, 
power, wealth : but God has subjected them to other laws than blind 
human will and desire ; and has, in return, said, as to all that concerns 
our true happiness, glory, wealth, and pleasure, " Ask, and it shall be 
given you." May we rightly estimate and employ this great prerogative 
attached to redeemed human nature ! 

My kind regards to Mrs. Ellis, your son, and to our common friends, 
Mr. and Miss Walton. 4 

In the spring of the year 1823 the first part of the work in which 
Mr. Watson had for some time been engaged made its appearance, 
under the title of " Theological Institutes : or, a View of the Evidences, 
Doctrines, Morals, and Institutions of Christianity." It is appropriately 
inscribed to the Rev. Jabez Bunting, A. M., " as a small expression of 
respect for his talents and virtues, and of the value placed upon his 
friendship by the author." The friendship subsisting between these 
eminent men was deep and cordial, founded upon mutual esteem. — 
Their views on nearly all the great questions of theology and Church 


order were in unison with each other ; and they had long been inti- 
mately connected in the missionary cause. The influence which they 
unitedly exerted upon the Methodist body was powerful and salutary 
and their names will be transmitted to posterity in honourable con- 

A modest advertisement prefixed to the work states, that its design 
is, " to exhibit the evidences, doctrines, morals, and institutions of 
Christianity, in a form adapted to the use of young ministers, and 
students in divinity. It is hoped, also, that it may supply the desidera- 
tum of a body of divinity, adapted to the present state of theological 
literature, neither Calvinistic on the one hand, nor Pelagian on the 
other. The reader will perceive that the object has been to follow a 
course of plain and close argument on the various subjects discussed, 
without any attempts at embellishment of style, and without adding 
practical uses and reflections, which, however important, did not fall 
within his plan to introduce. The various controversies on fundamental 
and important points have been introduced; but it has been the sincere 
aim of the author to discuss every point with fairness and candour ; 
honestly, but in the spirit of ' the truth,' which he more anxiously 
wishes to be taught than to teach, to exhibit what he believes to be the 
sense of the Holy Scriptures, to whose authority he trusts he has 
unreservedly subjected all his own opinions." 

This advertisement relates to the entire publication, and very cor- 
rectly points out its peculiar characteristics. The principal " contro- 
versies" introduced, and of which it contains a copious discussion, are 
the Deistical, the Socinian, and the Calvinistic. The imagination of 
the author is placed under absolute control ; and the rhetorical embel- 
lishment which marks his other writings is never suffered to appear, 
as being unsuited to the didactic and argumentative character of the 
work. On all doctrinal questions an absolute deference is paid to the 
authority of Scripture ; and while he contends for the tenet of general 
redemption, and that of the unnecessitated agency of man, he maintains, 
as strongly as the most rigid predestinarian, the entire corruption of 
human nature, and the consequent necessity of Divine influence. In 
this course he follows the path marked out by the pious and learned 
Arminius, from whom he selected the motto which he placed upon his 
title page. 

As it was the author's design to exhibit the true sense of the sacred 
Scriptures, on the leading topics of Christian theology, his first busi- 
ness is to establish the Divine authority of those writings to which he 
makes his appeal, and to which he requires every opinion to be sub- 
ordinated. To this subject he confines his attention in the first part. 
It is divided into twenty chapters ; and treats of the moral agency of 
man ; — the rule which determines the quality of moral actions ; — pre- 
sumptions of a direct revelation, from the weakness and corruption of 
human reason, and the want of authority in merely human opinions ; — 
the origin of those truths which are found in the writings and religious 
systems of the heathen; — the necessity of revelation, as proved by the 
state of religious knowledge and of morals among the heathen ;— the 
evidences necessary to authenticate a revelation ; — the use and limi- 
tation of reason in religion ; — the antiquity of the Scriptures ; — their 
uncorrupted preservation ; — the credibility of the testimony of the 


sacred writers ; — the miracles of Scripture ; — the prophecies of Scrip- 
ture ; — the internal evidence of the truth of Scripture ; — and of various 
objections. On many of these subjects Mr. Watson, as might be ex- 
pected, has availed himself of the able writings of the principal apolo- 
gists of revelation ; but his work is far from being a compilation. It 
is distinguished throughout by great originality, and force of reasoning. 
A subordinate place is justly assigned to what is called the internal 
evidence of Christianity ; and the author rests his cause mainly upon 
prophecy and miracles, concerning which his thoughts are striking 
and profound. The historical argument, also, founded upon the state 
of the heathen in all ages and nations, is well brought out and sustain- 
ed ; and considerable research is displayed in its elucidation. The 
paragraph with which this part concludes is very characteristic ; and 
is fully warranted by the preceding argumentation. 

" Such are the leading evidences of the truth of the Holy Scriptures, 
and of the religious system which they unfold, from the first promise 
made to the first fallen man, to its perfected exhibition in the New 
Testament. The Christian will review these solid and immovable 
foundations of his faith with unutterable joy. They leave none of his 
moral interests unprovided for in time ; they set before him a certain 
and a felicitous immortality. The skeptic and the infidel may be 
entreated, by every compassionate feeling, to a more serious considera- 
tion of the evidences of this Divine system, and the difficulties and 
hopelessness of their own ; and they ought to be reminded in the words 
of a modern writer, ' If Christianity be true, it is tremendously true.' — 
Let them turn to an insulted, but yet a merciful, Saviour, who even 
now prays for his blasphemers, in the words he once addressed to 
Heaven in behalf of his murderers, ' Father, forgive them ; for they 
know not what they do.' " 

This work was remarkably well received ; a second edition was 
soon called for ; and it served to establish the character which the 
writer had previously acquired, as an able divine and a profound rea- 
soner. The remainder of the work was looked for, in various quarters, 
with considerable eagerness. Had it been generally known, that a 
great part of it was written under severe bodily suffering, and in a state 
of extreme languor and exhaustion, the public impression of Mr. 
Watson's mental vigour would have been still stronger and more 

Mr. Watson's very infirm state of health, during the spring of this 
year, rendered him unable to afford that assistance at the anniversaries 
of the different missionary societies in the country, to which he had 
long been accustomed. His place, however, was supplied by able and 
faithful men ; and the cause of Christ in the heathen world was sup- 
ported with increased liberality. Mr. Newton made the annual tour of 
Cornwall ; and Mr. Watson's esteemed colleagues in the secretaryship 
attended several of the public meetings in the north. 

The anniversary of the parent society was held in London early in 
May. Mr. Watson prepared the report, and was assisted in the read- 
ing of it by Mr. Bunting. The following is Mr. Watson's account of 
this sacred festival :— " The anniversary of this society appears to 
excite increasing interest every succeeding year ; and the attendance 
of friends from all parts of the kingdom, on that important occasion, 


affords a most gratifying proof that the miseries of the heathen still 
excite the tenderest sympathy of the Wesleyan connection. While so 
many persons are ready to make a generous sacrifice of personal ease 
and convenience, in order that they may participate in the triumphs of 
this society, and renew their pledges of attachment to the sacred cause 
of Christian missions, no doubt can be entertained but that the evange- 
lization of the world will proceed with increasing rapidity and power. 
At seven o'clock in the morning of the first of May, a public prayer 
meeting was held in the City-Road chapel, to implore the blessing of 
Almighty God upon the general meeting, and the religious services 
connected with it. Notwithstanding the early hour at which this meet- 
ing was held, it was very numerously attended, and the heavenly influ- 
ence which rested upon the congregation was generally regarded as 
' a token for good.' The cause of missions is eminently the cause of 
God ; and, though carried on by human instrumentality, is essentially 
dependent upon the Divine blessing in every stage of its progress : and 
that blessing should be implored in devout and fervent prayer. The 
congregational collections exceeded those of any former year by up- 
ward of one hundred pounds." 

The public meeting was attended by Sir George Rose and Mr. 
Wilberforce ; and the former of these gentlemen not only patronized 
the society, but in the house of commons spoke strongly in favour of 
its operations and character. About the same time he also published 
a pamphlet in defence of the West India mission ; and employed the 
society's missionaries in the instruction of his own slaves in the island 
of Jamaica. 

Soon after this anniversary the treasurers received a legacy under 
peculiar circumstances ; which are worthy of permanent record, as 
illustrating the effects of religion in the character of a man once in very 
humble life. It is thus described by Mr. Watson : — ■" The committee 
have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of fifty pounds, left by 
the will of Mr. Thomas Mann, late a waterman of the precinct of St. 
Catherine by the tower, London, paid by his executor and nephew, Mr. 
Thomas John Crockford. The late Mr. Mann was a working water- 
man, called a scullerman, in a common boat on the Thames, and, by 
his unwearied industry and habits of frugality, had acquired considera- 
ble property. But he was always a generous man. Whenever he 
knew of a poor waterman, or other person, in distress, he readily gave 
him relief. After his father's death he supported his mother and sisters 
by his industry. He was a truly pious and consistent character. In 
the early part of his life he attended the ministry of Mr. Romaine, Mr. 
Newton, Mr. Wesley, and other eminent persons. He has left liberal 
legacies to the different missionary and other religious societies, beside 
a handsome sum to his relations. His character was so well known 
on the river, that he had acquired the name of ' the honest waterman.' 
He died at the advanced age of seventy-six." 

Mr. Watson attended the conference this year, which was held in 
Sheffield ; and from this place he addressed the following letters to his 
friends in Wakefield : — 


To William Ellis, M. D. 

Sheffield, Tuesday evening. 

My Dear Friend, — I take the opportunity of the return of our 
amiable and common friends, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Holdsworth, to say, 

1 . That I know not whether I replied to your last or not ; but, 

I. If I did not, my heart replies to every kind sentiment it contains : 
and, to be in the professional style of first, second, and third, 

3. That I purposed most fully to have seen you before I came here, 
but have been most provokingly hindered hitherto. However, I fully 
purpose to explain to you why I did not sooner afford myself that 
gratification when I see you. In the meantime, suffice it to say, in 
due order and method, 

1. That in March the doctors interfered, 

2. That in May, when I had laid aside a week, an attack of gout in 
my knee kept me three weeks in Devonshire, contemplating its beauties 
from a sofa, through an opening of four feet between the houses oppo- 
site ; and rendered it impossible, from the accumulation of business, for 
me to leave town long before conference. 

3. I nevertheless designated three days for that purpose ; when 
special business detained me ; so that I arrived here only on Saturday 

But what if I should reach Wakefield next Saturday, snugly, and 
without telling any body ? Perhaps I may, and remain till Monday. — 
In that case, though I hope to enjoy as much of your and Mrs. Ellis's 
company, as if I were at your house ; yet, as my maxim is, not to leave 
the house of my oldest host in any place, I should resort to my old and 
respected friend Mr. Walton, as my home ; knowing, too, that your 
intimacy there would make little difference in the quantum of your 
society ; and I would not for the world grieve in the least my venera- 
ble friend. 

Hoping then to see you, either then, or during the conference, I will 
not farther, " with pen and ink, write to you ;" but only use those 
instruments to say, that, with affectionate remembrance to Mrs. Ellis, 
I am yours most truly. 

P. S. Please say to Mr. Walton, that I shall write to him to-morrow, 
to say who is the president, &c. Present also my kind regards to Miss 

To Mr. William Walton, Wakefield. 

Sheffield, Wednesday morning. 
My Dear Sir, — I had intended to call at Wakefield, and have the 
pleasure of once more seeing you, in a kind of round-about way to the 
conference ; but some special affairs prevented me. However, I 
hope to see you, perhaps on Saturday, should all be well ; and though 
I have other invitations, I shall not leave your kind and hospitable 
roof, if it be convenient for you to give me a bed. I assure you long 
absence has not diminished my regards for yourself and family ; and 
to see you will give me the greatest pleasure. Perhaps you will be 
glad to hear a little conference news, though as yet we have but 
little. Mr. Moore was chosen president ; and we have just got to 


I know not whether you have heard of the overturn of the Hudders- 
neld coach, with several preachers. Mr. Sargent and Mr. Lloyd are 
the only persons who are seriously hurt. The conference sent Dr. 
Taft to visit them. He found them in cottages by the road side ; and 
states that they are more likely to die than live. Mr. Sargent is 
suffering from concussion of the brain ; and it is doubtful whether or 
not his spine is hurt. Lloyd is hurt in the kidneys, and inflamma- 
tion has followed. Their afflicted wives are with them, and their 
sufferings will be assuaged by every human attention. May God pre- 
serve and raise them up ! It is an awful providence. All the other 
preachers have arrived safe. 

I thank God, my health is much recovered ; though I feel the 
fatigues of the confinement of the committees we have had, penned up 
in a close vestry, and breathing bad air. I hoped to have left London, 
but they have kept me another year. My own will is not gratified in 
this ; but I wish to be only where my brethren judge I may be the 
most useful. 

Give my kind regards to Miss Walton, and to Dr. and Mrs. Ellis. 

The apprehensions respecting Messrs. Sargent and Lloyd, which 
are here expressed, were unhappily realized. They both expired in a 
few days. Mr. Sargent never recovered his recollection, his brain 
being injured by the fall. Mr. Lloyd, a young man of superior talents 
and acquirements, died in a manner the most peaceful and triumphant. 
Under torturing pain, and when all hope of recovery was gone, he was 
so strengthened by the consolations of the Holy Spirit, as to shout aloud 
the praises of God, and rejoice in hope of future glory. An interest- 
ing account of him, and of his fellow sufferer, was published in the 
Wesleyan Magazine in the course of the Knowing year. 

While Mr. Watson's mind was greatly affected by the sudden re- 
moval of these esteemed brethren, his sympathies were strongly excited 
by a letter from his friend Mr. Walton, informing him of the death of 
his youngest daughter. She had been happily married for a little while 
to a gentleman of the name of Milner, whom she had accompanied to 
Genoa ; and the distressing intelligence had just arrived that she was 
no more. She was at once intelligent, amiable, and pious ; and her 
death occasioned exquisite sorrow in the family. Mr. Watson, who had 
known and esteemed her, and was strongly attached to the survivors, 
addressed the following letters to the bereaved, in which he poured 
forth the kindest and most tender and generous feelings : — 

To Mr. William Walton, Wakefield. 

Sheffield, Friday morning. 
My Dear Friend, — I received your affecting letter this morning; 
and I again mingle my sympathies with yours, in the loss of your 
amiable daughter, for whom I had a very affectionate regard. I could 
recall to your remembrance and to my own, her simplicity and kindness, 
and excellence of character ; but that would only awaken your feelings, 
and remind me too strongly of the many happy hours which I have spent 
under your roof before her removal from home. I afterward felt much 
for her ; and admired the calmness with which she sustained many 
anxious and unsettled circumstances. But, my dear friend, this is your 


satisfaction and comfort, that your valued daughter knew how to cast 
her care on God; and that while every thing was done for her when 
separated from the friends she so much loved, she had in her last sickness 
the li^ht and comfort of the Divine presence, and the cheering hope of 
that better world, where separations shall be unknown, and where pain 
and sorrow shall be for ever excluded. 

Affection naturally wishes to be present at the closing scene, and to 
watch the escape of the loved spirits, whom our love would still retain 
on earth. But there is no doubt that you and Miss Walton were 
spared that trial in wisdom and in mercy. You have now the news of 
the conflict and the victory together ; and you are called at once to con- 
template the falling of the earthly tenement, and the freed spirit exulting 
over the frailty of mortality, and already in the joy of its Lord. Thus 
your wound and your healing, your affliction and your consolation, have 
visited you hand in hand. You " sing of judgment and of mercy ;" 
mercy tender, saving, and everlasting. So you feel it ; and in you 
may this consolation abound yet more and more ! 

How much we owe to the blessed Gospel ! " God is love !" What 
a testimony is this ! Love to all, and love in every thing ; love when 
he chastises, and love when he hides himself behind dark dispensa- 
tions. Here is the ground of a firm faith. This painful affliction was 
in love to the dear departed saint, whose loss we deplore ; love to you, 
her tenderest relative ; love to Mary, who was joined to her in sisterly 
affection, and constant friendship ; love to all who knew her excellent 
character. The lesson of our mortality is repeated ; the picture of a 
calm and peaceful death is again presented ; the end for which we 
ought to live, and pray, and watch, and labour. For you, my dear 
friend, another part of your family is in heaven, among the glorified ; 
safe and happy for ever. Your heart will therefore be more strongly 
attracted to that blessed world ; you will feel a richer interest in that 
heavenly inheritance ; your future journey will be cheered by the hope 
of joining them who are gone before ; and may the blissful assurance 
of meeting those we love on earth in the glory and smile of our Divine 
Lord, be our merciful lot when our heart shall fail ! 

Poor Lloyd, you will have heard, is gone, and his wife is twice a 

I thank God, I continue pretty well. It would give me great plea- 
sure to visit Wakefield again before I return ; but I must deny myself 
that pleasure, great as it would be. If the conference break up on 
Monday, I propose returning on Tuesday. 

My affectionate regards to Miss Walton, and best wishes. 

P. S. I will think of your proposal to write the substance of the 
sermon If I can, I will 

The following letter was addressed, at the same time, to Miss Wal- 
ton, the friend and solace of her revered father : — 

August 8th, 1823. 

My Dear Mary, — Your father's letter, containing some particulars 
of the death of your dear sister, greatly affected me. I could not but 
think of former days, when I read of her favourite walks, and botaniz- 
ing excursions ; her taste for the calm and rich beauties of rural scenery, 
and her choice of a tomb where a quiet should be thrown around, 

Vol. I. 18 


emblematical of her own character, and amidst those pure scenes of 
nature, to which the purity of her own spirit most feelingly attached 
itself. All this was touching to my own heart, as it was characteristic 
of hers. I felt, too, how strongly this part of the communication would 
appeal to your feelings, and call up many, many tender remem- 
brances. Your tears have been again called forth ; and mine have 
this morning mingled with them. 

But, above all, her death was as we might expect it to be ; and for 
this, you, my dear friend, are called, with your beloved father, to give 
thanks to God, who hath given her the victory ; and to comfort your 
heart with those blessed words of hope, " Them that sleep in Jesus will 
God bring with him." " Not lost, but gone before." 

Mournfully tender is the memory of past friendships and past joys ; 
but ours is the world of change. Its name is earth ; and that explains 
the whole. Well, let it roll, if we keep fast our hold on heaven; and 
if, when we pass away from its changeful scenes, and itself shall flee 
away from the face of Him who sitteth upon the throne, we are found 
for ever with the Lord ; — 

" Then in their bright results shall rise, 
Thoughts, virtues, friendships, griefs, and joys." 

I need not, I hope, assure you, that for you and your departed Ann, 
I felt for many years an affectionate respect. She has left us : but 
you remain ; and I trust will long remain the solace of your venerable 
father, and the object of the regard of your friends ; — and you have 
many. If you can set any value upon a friendship so poor as mine, and 
of so little consequence to any one, you have it in every degree you 
can wish. My prayer is that this bereavement may be to you and to 
myself the means of leading us to a nearer walk with God, and a 
greater meetness for that world where we shall meet again. Let 
it lead us to consecrate ourselves anew to God, and his service ; 
that in that immortal state we may be associated with all we have 
known and loved on earth, and enjoy that hallowed friendship which 
in this state has so many imperfections, and must suffer so many 

I cannot add more. My feelings you know. I had once hoped to 
see you again before I left Yorkshire ; but I must deny myself that 
happiness. My health is better ; but the future is known only to God. 
We are in his hands ; but wherever I am, be assured that I am as ever, 

Your most affectionate friend. 

On his return from the conference Mr. Watson received the melan- 
choly tidings of the death of Mr. Ward, of the Baptist mission at Se- 
rampore, whose recent visit to England had made so deep and beneficial 
an impression upon the minds of Christians in general. The following 
tribute to the memory of that distinguished missionary he drew up, and 
inserted in the missionary notices for September : — " We deeply regret 
to have received information of the death of the Rev. William Ward, 
after a short illness, of cholera morbus ; a disease which has commit- 
ted the most awful ravages in India for several years past. The Church 
of God, and the cause of missions, have sustained a heavy loss in the 
death of Mr. Ward ; but amidst the regrets of the Christian world, at 


the removal of this eminent missionary, there is this cause of great 
thankfulness, that by his long labours in India he was honoured to be 
one of those instruments by which the word of God has been so largely 
translated into the different languages of India, and the foundations of 
Christianity in that populous and idolatrous part of the world have been 
firmly laid. Mr. Ward's visit to this country tended also greatly to 
serve the same cause by the affecting pictures he presented, in his 
sermons and public addresses, as to the true character of Hindoo pa- 
ganism, and the forcible manner in which he impressed upon Chris- 
tians of all denominations the necessity of the special influences of the 
Holy Spirit, in order to the success of missions, and of earnest and 
persevering prayers for their effusion upon the world. In answer to 
such prayers we trust that other equally qualified labourers will be 
sent forth by the Lord of the harvest, to enter upon and extend the 
evangelical and exemplary labours of those whom God has called to 
their eternal reward ; and to reap the harvest which shall spring from 
the seed sown by them, in the different regions of the eastern world." 
In the autumn of this year Mr. Watson addressed the following let- 
ter to the Rev. Dr. M'Allum, on the interesting subject of a Wesleyan 
mission to the Holy Land ; a measure which had been long contem- 
plated, and in favour of which several subscriptions had been pre- 
sented : — 

To the Rev. Daniel M'Allum, M. D. 

London, Sept. 19th, 1823. 

Dear Sir, — I write to you on a subject of great importance ; and 
one on which I trust you will make no attempt to say No, until you 
have asked counsel of God, and your best feelings. 

You know that a mission to Jerusalem is before the committee, and 
something must be done with reference to that object. It is forced 
upon us by the prayers of the pious, and the contributions of the gene- 
rous. We have never put it forward to excite interest ; and yet we 
are constantly getting money with this designation. 

Our view is, that a mission house should be taken, and a family set- 
tled there ; and that two missionaries be appointed, one married and 
the other single. Much might be done by conversation, and circulat- 
ing the Scriptures, &c, in the first place, and by public family wor- 
ship. The rest must follow as the Lord may open the door. We 
think it likely, too, that the countries beyond may open ; in which case 
the house at Jerusalem might become the centre of a distinct class of 
missions, and the school in which the labourers might be trained for 
service, or sent out from England. 

But who will go, and head this great work, looking forward to Syria 
and Lesser Asia, and backward upon the Euphrates and Armenia, as 
scenes to which his labours may extend ; though not personally, yet 
by commencing the work in Palestine, the very centre of intelligence, 
and by training up the agents there ? How noble a scene of useful 
labour ! And the sacrifices are not great. Jerusalem is healthy ; pro- 
tection can be obtained ; the journey from England is short ; inter- 
course with friends regular ; and a trip to England every few years 
quite practicable. 

But for such a mission we as a body have a very limited choice of 



men ; who ought to be literary ; and, in addition, ought, in order to 
have the best chance of favour, &c, among the principal men, to know 
medicine and surgery. 

We lay this matter before you, in the name of the Lord, at least to 
go on an exploring excursion, before you make up your mind fully to 
give yourself to the work. You might go with Mr. Cook, from France, 
or some other suitable person, to Jerusalem and report ; or if you will 
at once, in the name of". Him whose blessed footsteps trod that soil, 
offer yourself to make the attempt to settle at once in Jerusalem, and 
put the practicability of a mission there to the test, take your excel- 
lent wife, and we will give you the best brother we can find to help 
you. The time of your stay may be left with yourself. The Italian 
language might help you sufficiently at the first ; and modern Greek 
and Arabic may be acquired there. We have no other person to head 
such a mission, to whom we can look. Think, pray, and write as soon 
as, you have determined at least to make farther inquiries. 

The God who has never forgotten Jerusalem direct you ! There 
are ten thousand Jews resident there, and not highly prejudiced ; 
many are respectable ; there are many amiable daughters of Zion, 
with whom your wife can form a pleasant society ; and several Chris- 
tian missionaries of the first order, &c, &c. I speak the words of 
truth and soberness. 

Give my love to Mrs. M'Allum. Let her remember Mary, and 
Martha, and Lazarus, the family whom Jesus loved ; and put no diffi- 
culty in the way of another family residing there in the same place, 
whom Jesus may also love, and to whom he will pay many special 
visits of mercy. 

P S. In all these sentiments Mr. Taylor joins me. 

For some reasons, with which Ave are not acquainted, Dr. M'Allum 
declined the service here proposed to him ; and the Rev. Charles Cook, 
of the French mission, Avas requested to visit that interesting country, 
and report to the committee the facilities that might exist for establish- 
ing a mission at Jerusalem, or any part of Palestine. 

In reporting this preparatory measure, Mr. Watson says, " One or 
two missionaries are already there ; and it has been found easy to dis- 
tribute the Scriptures, and to bring into instructive conversation many 
of that varied concourse of people who, from different parts of the 
world, are constantly ' flowing,' to use the language of Scripture, to 
this sacred place. In this work many more missionaries may be use- 
fully employed ; and Jerusalem will probably be the central point from 
which the agents of the different societies will ultimately send forth 
missions in various directions into the neighbouring countries, as Di- 
vine Providence may open the door. We commend our respected 
brother, and his important undertaking, to the prayers of our friends. 

" Should a promising opening for the establishment of an efficient 
mission present itself to Mr. Cook, a supply of missionaries must, of 
course, be sent ; and we take this opportunity of directing the atten- 
tion of those young men in whose hearts it is to offer themselves for 
this service of Christ in this and other Mohammedan countries, as 
Providence may open the way, to the necessity of directing their 
studies and inquiries into a channel which may specially qualify them 


for such stations, and particularly to the Arabic language. The time 
and application necessary to make a respectable proficiency in this 
attainment render it necessary that the earliest opportunity should be 
seized for its commencement." 

During the greater part of the year 1823 Mr. Watson was either 
severely afflicted, or in such a state of debility and exhaustion, as to 
be scarcely able to travel, and to attend missionary meetings in the 
country ; and his time was therefore mostly spent in the mission house 
and in his own room. His powerful and active mind, however, rose 
above every infirmity, and was constantly employed in useful study ; 
and when he could sit at his desk, his pen was seldom idle. The ap- 
probation with which his " Theological Institutes" was received urged 
him on to the completion of that work ; and the Wesleyan Magazine 
this year was greatly enriched by his communications. He wrote 
some valuable papers on that direct witness which is borne by the 
Holy Spirit, in the hearts of believers, to the fact of their personal 
adoption. The reality of this witness was generally held by Protest- 
ant divines in some former ages ; but it is now regarded by many as 
a mere peculiarity of Methodism. In this light it was viewed by Mr. 
Southey, in his " Life of Wesley ;" and Mr. Watson, in his reply, has 
shown that this great blessing of Christianity is distinctly recognized 
in the writings of the highest authorities in the Church of England. 
It is a remarkable fact, to which Mr. Watson has not adverted, that for 
more than half a century, under the reign of Elizabeth, and of the first 
James and Charles, there were bound up with the larger editions of 
the English Bible certain prayers for the use of individuals and fami- 
lies, printed by the regular authorities, the king's printers and the two 
English universities ; and with those prayers was connected, " The 
Confession of the Christian Faith." In this document the devout 
Christian is taught to say, " I believe and confess the Holy Ghost, 
God equal with the Father and the Son, who regenerateth and sancti- 
fieth us, ruleth and guideth us into all truth, persuading most as- 

brethren to Jesus Christ, and fellow heirs with him of life everlasting." 
An attempt being made by some anonymous correspondents of the 
editor of the Wesleyan Magazine to confine this office of the Holy 
Spirit within much narrower limits than is warranted by the sacred wri- 
ters, Mr. Watson enters somewhat largely into the question, and shows 
its direct bearing upon the entire system of experimental and practical 
religion. The papers were read with great interest at the time, and 
possess a permanent value. Mr. Watson contends, that "we must first 
be persuaded of God's pardonmg love to us, personally, before we can, 
in the Scriptural sense, love God ; and that such a persuasion is there- 
fore a prerequisite to what is properly termed Christian holiness." 
This is the view taken of the subject by Mr. Wesley, and is fully 
borne out by the phraseology of Holy Scripture, and the constitution of 
the human mind. We cannot love God, so as to delight in him as 
our supreme good, while we conceive ourselves to be the objects of 
his wrath. In this case he is rather an object of our fear and dread, 
than of our delight and grateful love ; and yet this love is the principle 
of all holiness and acceptable obedience. The theory therefore which 
requires men to ascertain the fact of their personal acceptance with 


God from the actual conformity of their temper and conduct to the pre- 
cepts of the Gospel, is directly calculated to produce a " spirit of 
bondage unto fear," rather than that filial disposition which character- 
ized the Christians of the apostolic age, and which is indeed the be- 
liever's " strength." 

On this subject Mr. Watson's convictions were very deep. He often 
referred to it both in his ministry and writings, and laid great and just 
stress upon it in the examination of missionary candidates. Thus he 
speaks concerning it in one of his published sermons ; in which he 
censures that philosophical Christianity which has become fashionable 
in modern times, and which many persons have mistaken for the 
Christianity of the New Testament. " It allows," says he, "that there 
is a witness of the Spirit to our adoption ; but then this Spirit, we are 
told, is nothing more than the Spirit in the word, who has there de- 
scribed the moral characters of those who are the children of God ; 
and that it is by comparing our own moral state with those recorded 
characteristics, that we are to apply his general testimony to ourselves. 

" We deny not that there is a testimony of the Spirit in the word as 
to the true character of all who are the children of God ; but then one 
of these characters is love to God as a Father, which I can never feel 
until by some means I know that he is not only the common Father 
of mankind, but my Father reconciled ; and of this I must be persuaded 
before I can apply the rule. I am set, therefore, upon this impossible 
task, to infer from a general description of the moral character of the 
children of God, what has passed in the mind of God, as to my person- 
al justification ; and to discover in my own heart love to God as re- 
conciled to me, while I have a trembling fear of him as a Judge. No ; 
it is the Holy Spirit that ' knoweth the mind of God,' which ' no man 
.knoweth ;' and his clearly revealed office is to show us, by his own di- 
rect impression upon the heart, what God has decided on the matter 
of our personal pardon ; and hence we are taught, not that the Spirit, 
as having inspired the written word which lays down authoritatively 
the terms of pardon to all, enables us to infer our adoption ; but that 
' the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the chil- 
dren of God ;' and that he thus ' abides with us' as ' the Comforter.' " 

The excellent papers on the witness of the Spirit were not the only 
articles supplied by Mr. Watson to the Magazine in the course of this 
year. He also furnished an admirable sermon, under the title of " Man 
magnified by the Divine Regard," in which are contained some of the 
noblest views of human nature ever presented to the minds of men. 
They form a perfect contrast to the wretched and grovelling principles 
of infidelity and materialism ; systems which separate man from his 
Creator, deprive him of religion and immortality, and leave him to live 
and die without either dignity, happiness, or hope. Mr. Watson shows, 
in a strain of beautiful and impressive eloquence, how greatly God has 
magnified man by the communication of an intellectual and moral na- 
ture ; by the constant and merciful care of his providence ; and espe- 
cially by redemption, with its rich and endless train of spiritual bless- 
ings both in earth and heaven. 

Reference has been already made to Mr. Watson's fine taste in 
sacred music. Of his judgment in this science his friends were fully 
aware : and especially in reference to congregational singing. The 


Methodists in Wakefield, having for some time been dissatisfied with 
the manner in which this part of Divine worship was conducted among 
themselves, meditated the erection of an organ in their chapel ; and 
some time about the end of the year 1823 solicited his opinion and 
counsel on this measure. In answer to their inquiries he addressed to 
them the following letter, the principles of which are of deep and 
general importance. The letter is not dated ; and the name ' of the 
person to whom it was sent does not appear : — 

London, Monday. 

Dear Sir, — I am unable to say any thing but what is exceedingly 
obvious, in the case of the introduction of organs into our chapels ; and 
I think the only question to be considered is, whether they serve or 
obstruct congregational singing. On this opinions differ ; some affirm- 
ing, and others denying as positively, that the congregation trusts to 
the organ, and listens, rather than joins in the service. As far as my 
observation goes, this does not necessarily follow. In churches, 
where the congregations are irreligious, it is so ; but it would be the 
same if there were only a clerk, or an orchestra of singers and 
fiddlers. In many churches I know, where the minister is evangeli- 
cal, and the congregation devotional, the organ is scarcely heard, but 
at the commencement of the tune, its sounds being mingled with the 
full swell of the voices of the worshippers. 

Among ourselves, at Brunswick chapel, Liverpool, the congregation 
joins with as much ardour as if there were no organ, and I think 
more. This is also the case at Bath, (in both the chapels,) at Mar- 
gate, and at Newark. These facts have fixed my opinion in favour 
of organs in large chapels, and where they are prudently and consti- 
tutionally introduced. The only exception I know is One in which 
the tone of the organ is so intolerably harsh, that no sound in heaven 
or in earth can commingle with it. I believe, however, that even there, 
the people sing ; but after all, the tones of the organ, like the voice of 
a fishwoman in a market, keep a lofty distinction above all others. — • 
This exception only proves that it is of importance to have an instru- 
ment of full and mellifluous tone. 

On the other hand, we shall regret the day when the liberty to 
introduce organs into our chapels, under certain circumstances, was 
granted, if we are to have organists also who seek to display their 
talents, and to tell a gaping crowd below with what elasticity their 
fingers can vibrate, and how many graces and trills they can add to 
the composition before them ; — men who could not think the sun 
shone bright, unless they looked at his beams through a painted trans- 
parency of their own ; and who would fancy they heightened the 
sublimity of a peal of thunder by ringing hand bells during the storm. 
The attempts of some organists to embellish and garnish the noble 
compositions of our great masters in psalmody is disgusting beyond 
endurance. Voluntaries are equally objectionable for a different rea- 
son. If good, they are out of place ; if bad, they do not deserve a 
place any where. 

As you are good enough to attach the least importance to an opi- 
nion of mine, I may give you in few words my deliberate judg- 
ment, formed now for several years, and after some observations of 


the practical effect. It is, that organs in our large chapels are 

1 . When they abolish formal choirs of singers. 

2. When they are played by persons of judgment and sobriety. 

3. When the end for which they are introduced, to assist congre- 
gational singing, is steadily maintained. 

4. When no voluntaries, interludes, &c, are, on any account, or at 
any time, permitted. 

5. When the tune is not first played over by the organ alone, — a 
common but very silly practice. 

6. When nothing is done rashly, or in the spirit of party ; for 
many of the best men have the strongest prejudices against the 


Mr. Watson publishes the second Part of his Theological Institutes — Letter to 
Mr. Walton — Persecution in Barbadoes — The Argument a priori in proof of a 
First Cause — Dr. Samuel Clarke's Demonstration — Divinity of Christ — Mission- 
ary Report for 1823 — Projected Mission to Jerusalem — Mission in Ceylon — In 
the West Indies — Catechisms of the Wesleyan Methodists — Mr. Watson preaches 
on the Mission to the Negroes at the Anniversary of 1824 — Letters to Miss 

The second part of the Theological Institutes, completing the first 
volume, was published at the beginning of the year 1824, and fully rea- 
lized the expectation which its predecessor had excited. The follow- 
ing note, which the author sent to his friend Mr. Walton, of Wakefield, 
with a copy of this publication, states the improvement of his health, 
and some interesting particulars respecting the missions. 

My Dear Friend, — I take the opportunity of my sending a copy 
of the second part of my work to Miss Walton, to wish you all the 
blessings of a new year. I am, through mercy, much better in health, 
and, as you may suppose, pretty well employed, though I have nearly 
given up travelling this winter. You will see that a storm has 
broken out in the West Indies ; but though the difficulties are great 
enough, we know that this work is of the Lord, and he will not 
forsake it. 

In the notices, which you will receive with this, you will see a long 
and affecting account from Mr. Shrewsbury. 

Our mission fund goes on nobly. This year we exceed jC35,000, 
being upward of .£4,000 increase. Thanks be to God, and to our libe- 
ral friends, and especially to our collectors ! 

The " storm" here referred to, as having " broken out in the West 
Indies," was the riotous conduct of a number of white people, ene- 
mies to the religious instruction and improvement of the negro slaves, 
at Bridgetown, in the island of Barbadoes. They assembled one 
evening, by general consent, and spent the greater part of the night in 
demolishing the mission chapel and dwelling house, destroying the 
furniture with axes and hammers, and tearing to pieces the mission- 


ary's library, consisting of about three hundred volumes. Mr. Shrews- 
bury, the missionary, a man of most exemplary character, was obliged 
to flee for his life. The case, as will appear from a subsequent part of 
this narrative, was afterward a subject of parliamentary censure. Pre- 
viously to this outrage an insurrection of the slaves had broken out at 
Demerara, when Mr. Smith, an excellent missionary, belonging to the 
London Society, was condemned by a court martial to be executed. The 
iniquitous sentence was reversed by his majesty ; but before the royal 
determination could be communicated to the colony, the man of God 
was released from his imprisonment by death ; and removed to those 
abodes " where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at 
rest." By these circumstances, and the hostile spirit of many of the 
planters and the local authorities, the West India mission was placed 
in a state of peril and anxiety ; and many of the poor negroes, who 
were robbed of the blessing of personal liberty, were in danger of 
losing their only solace in suffering, — the means of religious know- 
ledge, and the ordinances of Christian worship. 

Having ascertained in the first part of his Theological Institutes, 
the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, Mr. Watson proceeds, in 
the part now published, to examine their contents, and to collect from 
them that information on religious and moral subjects which they 
contain. This portion of the work treats of the existence and perfec- 
tions of God, — his unity, spirituality, eternity, omnipotence, ubiquity, 
omniscience, immutability, wisdom, goodness, and holiness. It treats 
also of the trinity in unity, of the pre-existence of Christ ; and partly 
of his Divinity, proving him to be the Jehovah of the Old Testament ; 
the farther prosecution of the argument being reserved for a future 

The knowledge of God, as an infinite and eternal Spirit, and as the 
Creator and Preserver of all things, was originally communicated to 
man by revelation ; and when that knowledge has become extinct in 
any part of the world, it does not appear that it has ever been reco- 
vered but by the same means. It would therefore seem, judging from 
the history of all ages, that the human mind, by its own unassisted 
efforts, is unable to discover this first principle of all true religion. — 
But the existence of God, once communicated by his own revelation, 
direct or traditional, is capable of ample proof, and receives an irre- 
sistible corroborative evidence. It is well known that two modes of 
argument have been applied to this subject by learned men, which are 
usually denominated & priori, and a posteriori. " An argument <J 
priori is an argument from something antecedent to something conse- 
quent ; from principle to corollary ; from cause to effect. An argument 
a posteriori, on the contrary, is an argument from consequent to ante- 
cedent ; from effect to cause." The most remarkable examples of the 
former kind of reasoning on this great question are Dr. Samuel 
Clarke's " Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God," which 
has been- often reprinted, and the more recent " Attempt to prove the 
Existence of the Supreme Unoriginated Being," by the late Bishop 

Upon the argument a priori, Mr. Watson was inclined to lay but 
little stress. Whatever might be its value, he saw that it was not 
adapted to the popular mind ; and the other argument was every way 


sufficient, while it had the direct sanction of inspiration : " The invisi- 
ble things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being 
understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and 
Godhead," Rom. i, 20. In discarding the argument & priori, Mr. Wat- 
son was sanctioned by high and competent authority. It is thus spoken 
of by Dr. Reid : " Sir Isaac Newton thought that the Deity, by exist- 
ing every where, and at all times, constitutes time and space, immensity 
and eternity. This probably suggested to his great friend Dr. Clarke 
what he calls the argument d priori for the existence of an immense 
and eternal Being. Space and time, he thought, are only abstract or 
partial conceptions of an immensity and eternity, which forces itself 
upon our belief. And as immensity and eternity are not substances, 
they must be the attributes of a Being who is necessarily immense 
and eternal. These are the speculations of men of superior genius ; 
but whether they be as solid as they are sublime, or whether they be 
the wanderings of imagination in a region beyond the limits of human 
understanding, I am unable to determine." (Essays on the Powers of 
the Human Mind. Essay iii ; chap, iii.) 

Dr. Clarke's " Demonstration" was far from being generally satis- 
factory at the time of its publication. Bishop Butler, then a young 
man pursuing his studies in a dissenting academy, addressed some 
letters to the author, in which he controverted some of his positions ; 
and Dr. Gretton published a formal answer to the work. " Its main 
principle was, by many, deemed questionable, if not fallacious ; and 
some of the inferences deduced from it, not only doubtful, but of dan- 
gerous tendency. The more cautious and considerate inquirers after 
truth judged it expedient rather to rely upon the well-established proofs 
of the Divine Being from arguments a posteriori, — those which resulted 
from the actual phenomena of the universe, — than to rest so great and 
fundamental a truth, the very ground of all moral and religious con- 
duct, upon abstract metaphysical speculations, above the reach, per- 
haps, of any finite understandings, and confessedly not adapted to 
general apprehension. Even among those who were favourable to the 
general design of the work, considerable doubts were entertained as to 
the solidity of certain parts of it, on which doctrines of such importance 
were made to depend."* It is highly probable that it was by his spec- 
ulations on this subject, that Dr. Samuel Clarke was led into Arianism. 
He thought that he could, on metaphysical principles, independently of 
Scripture, and of the phenomena of nature, demonstrate the necessary 
existence of a First Cause ; but he could not, in the same manner, 
demonstrate that there are three co-equal and co-eternal persons in the 
Divine essence ; and he is known to have spent a considerable part of 
his life in opposing this vital article of the Christian faith. 

In proving the existence of God from the works of creation, and 
tracing the marks of wisdom and design which are presented by uni- 
versal nature, Mr. Watson has judiciously availed himself of the writings 
of several eminent men, and especially of the Living Temple of John 
Howe, one of the most able and profound treatises in the entire com- 
pass of English theology. From this work Paley has borrowed several 

* Bishop Van Mildert's Life of Dr. Waterland. The reader who wishes to 
pursue this subject farther, will be greatly assisted by an able Dissertation at the 
end of the fourth volume of Waterland's Works, edit. 1823. 


of his best arguments and most striking illustrations ; and he has made 
a very inadequate acknowledgment of his obligations to the author. — 
This part of Mr. Watson's work has more the appearance of a com- 
pilation than any other ; and several persons expressed themselves 
disappointed on account. of the copious citations with which it abounds. 
But the complaint rests upon no solid foundation. It would have been 
mere affectation and folly for the author to spend his time in original 
composition, merely to save appearances, when facts and arguments, 
every way suited to his purpose, were already prepared for him, and 
were beyond the reach of a considerable proportion of his readers ; being 
found only in large and scarce publications. So much extract, how- 
ever, occasions a degree of inequality in the style of this part of the 
work ; and the author, some months before his death, requested his 
printer, the able translator of the Works of Arminius, to give a modern 
dress to such of the extracts as were somewhat antiquated in style, so 
that the inverted commas might be laid aside, and the different authors 
be simply referred to in the margin. Of course, it was intended that 
the whole of this should be done under Mr. Watson's own direction ; 
but as nothing of the kind was attempted during his life, the work must 
now remain in its original form. It would be unjust to the author, to 
make him responsible for phraseology which he never saw. 

In describing the perfections of the Divine nature, and establishing 
the doctrine of the trinity, and of the Godhead of Christ, Mr. Watson 
derives all his arguments from the Holy Scriptures, to which he sub- 
ordinates every principle and sentiment ; and while he brings out the 
general meaning of the sacred oracles, as bearing upon these vital 
truths, with all the force of demonstration, he furnishes many admira- 
ble illustrations of particular texts. A becoming seriousness and zeal 
characterize his reasonings in defence of the pre-existence and Divinity 
of Christ ; for he felt that the Socinian controversy, respecting the 
person of the Son of God, affected the very substance of Christianity. 
If Christ be not God, in the full and proper sense of that term, Chris- 
tian worship is idolatry, the doctrine of redemption is a fable, and in 
no true and legitimate sense is he a Saviour. On the other hand, as 
" God manifest in the flesh," he is entitled to our higest adoration ; 
there is in the sacrifice of his death an adequate atonement for the sins 
of the whole human race ; and he is worthy of the absolute confidence 
of mankind, both in life and death. He is able to save from all sin, 
and from all its penal consequences ; and able to confer, through ever- 
lasting ages, all the happiness of which his redeemed creatures are 
capable. The subject was barely introduced in the second part of the 
Institutes ; and the full discussion of the question was reserved for a 
subsequent portion of the work. A few weeks after the second part 
appeared, a new edition of the first part was published ; a substantial 
proof of the estimate which was formed of its value. 

At this time Mr. Watson sent forth, under very encouraging circum- 
stances, the missionary report for the year 1823, containing intelligence 
of the most gratifying kind, both in regard to the prosperity of the 
foreign missions in general, and the liberality with which they were 
supported. In regard to the Holy Land, it is said, " The committee 
have for some time contemplated the establishment of a mission in 
Palestine ; and it has recently been resolved to send out two persons 


of suitable qualifications. Jerusalem is designed to be the scene of 
their labours ; and they will be directed not merely to visit it, but, 
should God grant them an open door for exertion, to remain there, with 
a view to the establishment of a permanent mission. To the lively 
interests of the friends of missions, the committee need not commend 
this enterprise. The hope of giving back a portion of evangelical light 
to the country which witnessed its dawn, and its meridian splendour, 
cannot but awaken their ardour, and command co-operation. But they 
commend it to their earnest prayers, that the best means of making 
known a long-rejected Saviour may be pointed out to the agents em- 
ployed ; that Mohammedan hostility, Jewish unbelief, and Christian 
superstition, may be removed by Him whose Spirit commands all 
hearts ; that Jerusalem may again witness its disciples ' in an upper 
room,' its pentecostal effusion of the grace, if not of the gifts, of the 
Spirit, and its thousands ' pricked in their hearts,' and asking, ' What 
shall we do V Mr. Cook is about to proceed immediately to Palestine ; 
and, should the opening be found favourable, he will be followed by 

After giving an account of the mission schools in Ceylon, in which 
about four thousand children were under Christian instruction, the re- 
port adds : " Can it be that all this light and truth, infused into the 
youthful memory, and insinuating itself into the early and opening 
judgment, should be communicated in vain ? That is impossible. It 
will be its lowest, yet glorious effect, to bring idolatry into discredit, 
and to purge the mind from superstitions to which only the most igno- 
rant are subject, and which at once pollute the passions, and spread 
gloom and wretchedness through the breast. But happy as this result 
will be, — gratifying as it is to humanity, as well as to piety, that idols 
should be forsaken, and their deluded votaries exalted to a state of 
judgment and feeling more worthy of the human understanding, — we 
may look still higher. Of the youth thus taught, a considerable num- 
ber have become members of a Christian society, and show that they 
have received the grace of God in truth. The rest are prepared, by 
their knowledge of the Scriptures, to hear with profit ' the word of life,' 
as explained and enforced by the servants of the Lord ; and from them 
it is probable that the future increase in the societies already formed 
may be expected. 

" In the course of the last year a great excitement was produced 
by the agitation of measures in parliament respecting the slave popu- 
lation of the West Indies ; and the unhappy insurrection in the colony 
of Demerara exposed us, through various unfounded reports, to tempo- 
rary reflections and slanders. These have all been removed by the 
facts which we were able to give to the world, of the peaceable con- 
duct of our missionaries and societies there ; and though, under the 
influence of mistaken views, and some false representations, a riot was 
produced in Barbadoes, which issued in the demolition of our mission 
chapel, in Bridgetown, by a lawless mob ; yet the committee regard this 
as the ebullition of the moment, and rejoice in knowing that the great 
cause of enlightening and moralizing the slaves of the West Indies, 
by means of religious instruction, is daily gaining new friends among 
those whose connection with these colonies is the most intimate and 


" The cause of the religious instruction of the slave population of 
the West Indies has, during the last year, been ably advocated in a 
pamphlet, entitled, ' A Letter on the Means and Importance of con- 
verting the Slaves in the West Indies to Christianity, by the Right 
Hon. Sir George Henry Rose ;' and the impression produced by his 
statements, and the force of his truly Christian appeals to the best 
feelings and most sacred principles, in behalf of the adoption of general 
and comprehensive measures for their moral improvement, promises to 
awaken a concern more lively and more extensive than has ever yet been 
cherished for the attainment of an object so essentially connected with 
the peace and welfare of the colonies themselves, and with the present 
and the everlasting interests of eight hundred # thousand of our fellow 
creatures. For the liberal manner in which the labours of the Wes- 
leyan missionaries are mentioned, among others, the committee offer 
their thanks to this benevolent and able advocate of the diffusion of 
Christian knowledge and Christian principles, as the basis of all 
morality and civil happiness. They trust that the effect of the diffusion 
of such sentiments as this excellent pamphlet contains, and of the ob- 
ligations which it so convincingly establishes, will be to excite those 
societies which are already engaged in the work to increase the num- 
ber of their agents, and to labour in it with renewed zeal. The field 
is so wide and so uncultivated, as to call for the co-operation of all to 
bring it under moral culture ; and the committee may pledge them- 
selves in behalf of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, that every new 
opening for the extension of this benefit will, to the utmost of their 
power, be promptly and efficiently embraced. 

" On the news of the unhappy insurrection which recently occured 
in Demerara, the committee met the indiscriminate charges made 
against missionaries, as having excited the revolt, by publishing the 
instructions under which the society's missionaries are required to act, 
and expressing their confidence that neither of their missionaries in 
that colony had acted contrary to them. They expressed their hope, 
also, that the slaves in society would be found to have conducted them- 
selves becoming their Christian profession. On the receipt of the 
first letter from Mr. Mortier, the missionary, after the insurrection, we 
learned that not only was he, and his colleague Mr. Cheesewright, free 
from all imputation, but that only two negro members of our society had 
been suspected. Mr. Mortier, at that time, expressed his belief of 
their innocence. A second letter from that missionary communicated 
the gratifying intelligence that these two persons, who were servants 
of the governor, had been liberated upon full conviction of their entire 
innocence ; and that not one of the members of our large society, of 
twelve hundred and sixteen persons, chiefly slaves, had been in the 
least concerned in the revolt ; and that the slaves of an estate under 
the care of Mr. Cheesewright had not only refused to join the rebels, 
but had conducted their master to a vessel, by which he reached 
Georgetown in safety." 

The number of schools connected with the different mission stations 
is said to be one hundred and seventy-nine ; and the number of children 
under instruction, eleven thousand nine hundred and forty-nine. The 
contributions to the society, during the year, amounted to .£35,830. 
lis. 8d. ; making an increase for the year of jC4,082. 4*. 9d. 


It is added, in conclusion : " The committee are happy in having 
so much reason to believe, that, in proportion to this increase of exer- 
tion, at home and abroad, the spirit of prayer has been more largely 
poured forth ; and that the great work is laid at the footstool of Him 
whose blessing alone can give it prosperity, in humble confession of 
the total insufficiency of man. The public acknowledgment which 
has of late been made of the office of ' the Lord, the Spirit,' and the 
necessity of his continued agency, has had its effect upon missionaries 
abroad, whose letters and other communications give pleasing proof 
that these are the sentiments which influence their minds ; and show 
that they have been greatly comforted in their arduous and often dis- 
couraging labours, by the consideration that the difficulties of their 
work have been rightly estimated, and that ' the thousands of Israel,' 
in this land of privileges, are ' striving together with them in their 
prayers,' day and night making request with tears and with joy. The 
reasons for perseverance in this hallowed exercise remain unabated, 
and must continue in their full force, till the prayer taught us by our 
Lord, ' Thy kingdom come,' is accomplished in all its fulness : and 
fully it cannot be accomplished, even in this present world, until the 
joyful thrilling acclaim be heard in all lands, and is re-echoed from the 
heaven of heavens itself, ' The kingdoms of this world are become 
the kingdoms of our God and his Christ ; and he shall reign for ever 
and ever.' Subjects of prayer, of a particular kind, and all sub- 
servient to this grand object, are constantly pressing upon the attention 
of those whose minds are directed to the operation of missions : — 
suitable instruments, endowed with those peculiar qualifications for 
that variety of service which is now required by operations so ex- 
tended, are to be asked from the Lord of the harvest, whose sole pre- 
rogative it is to send forth labourers ; the assistant missionaries who 
have been raised up from among the heathen, both in Africa and India, 
have a special claim upon our sympathy and intercessions, as the 
first fruits of a native ministry, from which, by the grace of Christ, so 
much is to be expected ; — those of our brethren who have gone beyond 
the protection of British power (now in almost every colony so well 
employed by the representatives of majesty, both to defend and to sanc- 
tion the self-denying and devoted servants of Christ) demand our con- 
stant remembrance before the throne of the heavenly grace. Living 
among savages and lawless tribes, capricious, sanguinary, and brutal, 
they claim, both for their personal protection and their success among 
a people so rugged and unpromising, our daily prayers. And, above 
all, when the malice and subtlety of the great spirit of evil, the ruler 
of the darkness of this world, are considered, and that he is now the 
more active and the more various in his assaults, as he can no longer 
keep his goods in peace, and knoweth that he hath but a short time ; 
it is the more imperative upon us to be aware of his devices, to arm 
ourselves in this work with the whole armour of God, and to feel our 
own dependence, and the dependence of all our endeavours, upon God, 
and to pray with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and to 
watch thereunto with all perseverance. 

" It is thus in humble and prayerful efforts that we are assured of the 
Divine co-operation. ' And shall not God hear his own elect when they 
cry day and night unto him V The history of the past is the pledge of 


the future ; for to no great effort made, and persevered in, in this spirit, 
was success ever denied. When once the whole Church of Christ 
under its different names, and united in common zeal and love, is 
aroused to justify its original and proper character, as the light of the 
whole world, the great result to which all our wishes and exertions 
tend cannot be afar off. Girded by His might who hath given them 
the commission, the spiritual Israel will be able to go up and possess 
the whole land. Before communicated light the darkness must flee 
away ; and before weapons of celestial temper, Avielded by those 
whose hands are made strong by the hands of the God of Jacob, all 
opposition must be scattered. Mighty are they, through God, to pull 
down the strongest holds, and to abase every exalted and proud form 
of idolatry and superstition, which has defied our Saviour, and deluded, 
oppressed, and ravaged his redeemed creatures. In the name of the 
Lord, then, let us lift up our banners ; and on this sacred day conse- 
crate ourselves to efforts which shall never relax, and to a contest 
which, spurning all compromise, shall fix our steady eye upon com- 
plete and universal victory through the blood of the Lamb, and by the 
word of his testimony. To him be glory in the Church throughout 
all ages. Amen." 

Early in the spring of this year, and about the time at which this 
report made its appearance, Mr. Watson published " A Catechism of 
the Evidences of Christianity, and the Truth of the Holy Scriptures." 
He had previously compiled two catechisms of Christian doctrine, and 
Scripture history ; one for the use of children of tender years, and 
the other for children of seven years of age and upward. They had 
been prepared under the direction of the conference, and submitted to 
the careful examination of a committee appointed for the purpose ; and, 
having been approved, the entire series was published under the sanc- 
tion of the connection, as the authorized catechisms of the body, and 
designed for the use of Sunday schools and private families. In the 
first and second of these publications considerable use was made of 
the catechism of the Church of England, and that of the Westminster 
assembly of divines, as well as of Mr. Wesley's " Instructions for 
Children." They have been in very extensive requisition ; tens of 
thousands of children, especially in Sunday schools, both at home and 
abroad, have by means of them received their religious training ; and 
they are justly entitled to the distinction which they have acquired, as 
a plain and familiar exposition of the first principles of evangelical 
truth. A preference is given to them in some institutions with which 
the Methodists have no connection. The " Catechism of the Evidences 
of Christianity" is an original and very important work, well adapted 
to establish the minds of young persons in the belief of the truth, and to 
guard them againt the snares of skepticism and infidelity. In an age 
like the present, when principles subversive of all religion and morality 
are sedulously disseminated, in cheap and inviting publications, and 
are often artfully mixed up with popular and periodical literature, the 
guardians of youth are certainly guilty of a fearful dereliction of duty, 
if they neglect to fortify their charge against evils of this fearful 
magnitude. Skepticism in religion flatters the pride of the unrenewed 
heart, and justifies all its vices and depravity ; but it is ruinous to the 
soul, and often prematurely drowns men in destruction and perdition. 


The minds of young people, therefore, cannot be too early impressed 
with the Divine origin of Christianity, and its authoritative character * 
and in the attainment of this object valuable assistance may be derived 
from Mr. Watson's manual. It states, with great clearness and force, 
the leading evidences of revealed religion, and refutes the most plausi- 
ble and popular objections. Christian parents should not only put it 
into the hands of their children, as they advance in life, and their 
intellect expands ; but they should frequently endeavour to ascertain, 
by actual examination, what degree of acquaintance has been formed 
with its facts and arguments. The most beneficial results might be 
justly anticipated from this wise and pious course. The number of 
young persons who have been preserved from infidelity by the 
blessing of God upon this excellent little work will only be known 
in " the day when God will judge the secrets of men's hearts by Jesus 

In consequence of the delicacy of his health, Mr. Watson was com- 
pelled to avoid travelling during the winter ; but as the spring approach- 
ed, he lent his assistance at a few missionary meetings in the country. 
Burslem, Bristol, and two or three minor places, were favoured with 
his help ; but he was not able to repeat those labours to which a few 
years before he had been accustomed, and in which he had taken so 
much delight. He rendered, however, to the general society, at its 
anniversary in April and May, the most important service. This was 
an occasion of unusual interest, on account of the peculiar state of the 
West India mission. The question of negro emancipation had begun 
to excite attention, and in some quarters was warmly agitated ; and 
the house of commons had passed several resolutions, pledging the 
legislature to introduce certain measures of amelioration in regard to 
the negro, with a reference to the ultimate extinction of slavery. The 
death of the missionary, Smith, in the prison at Demerara, and the riot 
in Barbadoes, by which the Methodist chapel was demolished, and the 
missionary driven from the island under circumstances of peculiar 
atrocity, caused a feverish anxiety among the friends of_the mission 
cause. Many of the planters assumed an attitude of determined 
hostility, not only to the religious instruction of the slave population, 
and. to all missionary operations, but to the government itself; and 
either believed, or affected to believe, that the missionaries were the 
agents of the abolitionists in England. As Mr. Watson had a thorough 
knowledge of West Indian society, and perfectly understood the nature 
and bearing of the mission to the negro slaves, as well as the peculiar 
state of public feeling, he was requested by the committee to preach 
one of the annual sermons before the society ; to confine his attention 
to the society's labours in the West Indies ; and to prepare his dis- 
course with a reference to publication. With this request he complied, 
and preached at the City-Road chapel, on Thursday evening, April 
29th. The task assigned to him was one of great delicacy, and in 
many respects was exceedingly difficult ; but it was one of the pecu- 
liarities of his character, that his mind always rose with the occasion , 
and he never disappointed the expectation of his friends in any 

The text selected was most appropriate. It was, " Honour all men," 
1 Peter ii, 17 ; enjoining upon Christians the duty of honouring human 


nature in all its forms. The sermon was addressed to a large and 
very respectable congregation. It was delivered with fluency and 
power ; and was heard with the most profound and breathless attention. 
The delivery of it occupied two hours within a few minutes ; and a 
member of the senate, who had accompanied Mr. Butterworth to the 
chapel, said, when returning from the service, " The sermon was the 
greatest display of intellectual strength in a public speaker I ever heard. 
I have perhaps sometimes witnessed an equal degree of power for a 
short period ; but an extemporary address, of two hours' length, deliver- 
ed with such unabated energy of thought and feeling, never before came 
under. my observation." As the sermon had been prepared with a 
view to the press, it was soon published, under the title of, " The 
Religious Instruction of the Slaves in the West India Colonies 
advocated and defended." It is the most elaborate of all Mr. Watson's 
printed discourses, and is, without exception, one of the noblest com- 
positions of the kind in the English language. There are passages in 
it which, for sublimity of thought, richness of illustration, and strength 
and beauty of expression, would not suffer from a comparison with the 
most admired productions of our best prose writers ; but its great 
excellence consists in the pure and elevated principles which it main- 
tains, and the spirit of Christian benevolence and justice with which it 
is so thoroughly imbued. It quickly passed to a second, a third, and 
a fourth edition. 

Had Mr. Watson never written any thing beside this admirable dis- 
course, it would have been sufficient to establish his reputation as a 
man of superior genius and talent, and a Christian philanthropist. But 
while his intellectual powers appeared daily to acquire new vigour, and 
his mental resources seemed to be all but inexhaustible, he was a sub- 
ject of disease, and often of great personal suffering ; and his general 
aspect, and the frequent prostration of his strength, excited the sympa- 
thies of his friends, and awakened in their minds many painful anxieties 
as to the result. 

About a fortnight after the delivery of his powerful discourse before 
the missionary society, Mr. Watson addressed the following letters to 
his daughter, then at school in Paris. They show the tender yearnings 
of a father's heart ; and present, with some others which will be given 
in the course of this narrative, an interesting view of his spirit in the 
domestic relations. 

May I3tk, 1824. 

My Dearest Child, — Yours, dated April 29th, did not arrive at 
Wellington-street till yesterday ; so that we were long kept in anxiety 
and suspense. It was ill judged in you not to write by post, especially 
your first letter ; and the consequence is, you have been kept so much 
longer from hearing of home. 

Your mother is much better than when you left ; and I, through 
mercy, am able to go through my exercises in a tolerable degree of 
health. I am not surprised that you felt lonely and uncomfortable at 
first, never having been from home at all ; but in such situations your 
object is to be kept in view ; and the constancy of application, and the 
occupancy of your time, together with increased familiarity with new 
scenes and new faces, will remove all uneasy impressions. To this, 

Vol. I. 19 


you must recollect that you are in the way of duty ; and must look up 
to God for his presence with you, and his blessing upon your endea- 
vours. Thus you may be happy every where ; though you cannot for- 
get, nor do we wish you to forget, that you are not at home. 

I am glad to hear that you find your French master so competent. 
In addition to what you are required to do in French, read as much in 
it as you can ; and if you choose such standard historical works as 
are within your reach, you will get information, while you improve in 
the language. Converse as much as you can. Be determined to talk ; 
and by asking the names of things, you will acquire a copia verborum. 
Resolutely also attempt to think in'French, which will greatly facilitate 
your progress. It is satisfactory that your pronunciation is pretty near 
the standard ; but you must remember that accent is as important as 
pronunciation ; though you must take care of affectation in this 
particular. Attend patiently to music. Take particular care of your 
fingering, which you know is essential to a good execution. When 
you are pretty much at ease in French, it will be time enough for you 
to begin Italian. 

Amidst your application, take care of your health ; and in order to 
promote it, walk much in the garden. As for acquaintance among the 
ladies, they come in course ; and the more general they are, the better. 
You must lean on nothing as a source of happiness, but on God, on 
your daily duty, and your hope of seeing home ; the last not to be in- 
dulged so as to make you unquiet. 

We have had a very good anniversary. The collections were 
jC1,300 and upward. My sermon I have been requested to publish; 
and shall send you a copy or two. The Magazines I will send as you 

The two sick S s are, I hear,, at the point of death. Mr. Mawer, 

of Lincoln, died suddenly, at supper table ; and Miss C. is dead. So 
we are in a dying world. Let us live then, my dearest girl, to God 
and for eternity. Let the Bible and a throne of grace be increasingly 
precious to us. 

I shall, Deo volente, visit you in September. Write immediately. — 
Keep up your spirits. Your mother sends her love and blessing. 

May 24dh, 1824. 

My Dearest Girl, — I write by return of post, in answer to yours, 
to say, that whatever your own judgment thinks necessary for your 
improvement, I wish you to attend to ; and I shall not mind the ex- 
pense. As I am going into Devonshire, I shall not be able soon again 
to write to you, and must leave your mother and you to exchange 

The way to avoid as much as possible the English accent in speak- 
ing French, is to be very attentive to the native French you hear spoken; 
and by comparing the difference in your own mind, you may get a tact 
for discriminating, and this effort will produce a delicacy of ear. The 
ear acquires its distinguishing delicacy in language, as in music, by 
long and close application. 

Above all, my dear Mary, give your heart fully to God, and live en- 
tirely to him. You have entered on the Christian course, and nothing 
could have given so much pleasure to your father. Read the Scrip- 


tures. Observe your times of private prayer ; and watch your heart ; 
so shall you grow in grace, and become a steady and honourable mem- 
ber of the Church of Christ. 

God bless you. Keep up your spirits. 


Mr. Watson visits Oxford — Conference of 1824 — Letters to his Daughter — 
First Report of the Anti.Slavery Society — Agitations in the West Indies — Letter 
to the Right Hon. Wilmot Horton — Letter to the Rev. Elijah Hoole — Letter to 
the Rev. Frederick England — Missionary Report of 1824 — Anniversary of the 
Missionary Society in 1825— Letter to Mr. Garbutt— Debate in the House of 
Commons on the Riot in Barbadoes— Sir R. W. Horton— Singular Impression- 
Conference of 1825 — Address to the Societies — Letter to the Rev. Robert Young 
— Mr. Watson publishes the third Part of his Theological Institutes— Notices 
concerning it. 

In the early part of the summer of 1824 Mr. Watson visited Oxford, 
and spent some days in that interesting city and neighbourhood, where 
the friends were delighted with his spirit and conversation. His cheer- 
fulness, his sanctified wit and humour, his intelligence, and his com- 
municative habits, were to them a source of the highest gratification. 
It was the time of the commemoration, when the members of the uni- 
versity assemble in the vast theatre, erected by Archbishop Sheldon ; 
degrees are conferred ; prize poems, and other compositions, are re- 
cited ; and the undergraduates claim the right of expressing their opi- 
nion of the highest authorities in that learned body, either by plaudits, 
or by groans and hisses. As a spectator, Mr. Watson enjoyed these 
proceedings ; for his powerful and well-disciplined mind drew practical 
instruction from almost every object that was presented to his attention. 
Before his return to London he accompanied Mr. Cubitt, who was then 
stationed in the Oxford circuit, and some other friends, to Nuneham, 
the seat of Lord Harcourt, to refresh his spirits by a change of air and 
scenery ; and to survey those beauties of art and nature of which, 
through life, he was a passionate admirer. One of the party was a 
medical gentleman, of considerable experience and skill. While lean- 
ing upon the branch of a tree in the estate of the nobleman just men- 
tioned, Mr. Watson, in a manner perfectly frank and unconstrained, 
began to speak concerning himself. " I know not," said he, " what 
change is taking place in my constitution ; but I am apprehensive that 
disease, in a somewhat new form, is beginning to develope itself. I 
believe that I am not naturally an ill-tempered man ; at least my 
friends have not been in the habit of charging me with ill nature ; 
but of late I have found myself snappish, without being able to assign 
any particular reason for it. There is also another symptom which 
leads me to form this opinion concerning myself. Up to a late period 
my spirit has been sanguine and cheerful ; my horizon has been gene- 
rally bright and distinct ; but latterly I have caught myself gloomy and 
beclouded, and yet I could not tell why." The medical gentleman 
stated his persuasion to be that Mr. Watson's liver was seriously dis- 
eased ; but expressed a hope that by prudent management his life might 
be prolonged, and his services to the Church continued for many years ; 


and he engaged, before Mr. Watson left Oxford, to give him some 
written directions in regard to diet and medicine. 

A more interesting companion than Mr. Watson, especially in a place 
like Nuneham, it is scarcely possible to conceive. He generally car- 
ried with him a small magnifying glass for the examination of minute 
objects, and particularly of flowers, and a lancet with which he was 
accustomed to dissect them. Several young persons were of the party 
on this occasion ; and it appeared to be an object with him to render 
himself as agreeable and instructive as possible. His spirit was 
unusually bland and kind ; and he directed their attention to endless 
scenes of wonder in the creation, accompanied by devout and hallowed 
references to the great Architect, who had surrounded them with such 
striking displays of his wisdom, power, and love. The individuals 
who formed the party still retain a vivid recollection of that memorable 

The conference of 1824 was held in Leeds ; and during its sittings 
Mr. Watson enjoyed several pleasing interviews with his old and faith- 
ful friends at Wakefield. At this time it was found necessary to make 
some new arrangements in regard to the secretaryship of the mission- 
ary society. Mr. Bunting was about to leave London, and therefore 
could not any longer continue in the office of secretary, which he had 
so long and honourably sustained ; and the labours and responsibility 
of this department of the mission work were greatly increased, in con- 
sequence of the augmented income of the society, and the enlargement 
of the foreign operations. The conference, therefore, in compliance 
with the recommendation of the managing committee, appointed three 
resident secretaries, who were to devote their whole time and attention 
to the concerns of the society. Mr. Taylor, having lost his health, 
removed from the mission house, where he was succeeded by the Rev. 
George Morley ; the Rev. John Mason was appointed as the third 
secretary ; and Mr. Watson remained in his former situation. The 
foreign correspondence, and the publications of the society, were con- 
fided to him ; and the correspondence with the auxiliary societies, the 
accounts,. the outfit of missionaries, &c, devolved more especially upon 
his ' craleagues. .During the period in which these excellent men were 
associated together in connection with the missionary society, mutual 
confidence, and a perfect cordiality of affection, were preserved among 
them. Mr. Watson was invariably found most assiduously attentive to 
the duties of his office, and ever ready to take his full share of labour 
and responsibility ; and in all his official intercourse with his fellow 
secretaries, he was perfectly frank and candid, — an example of Chris- 
tian honour and uprightness. 

The influx of strangers into Leeds, at the time of each conference 
in that town, from the surrounding country, especially on the Lord's 
day, is usually very large ; often amounting to many thousands more 
than the chapels can contain. It is therefore common for a number 
of preachers, when the chapels are filled, to address the assembled 
multitudes in the open air ; and on one Sunday evening, at the con- 
ference of 1824, being in tolerable health, Mr. Watson took his share 
in this honourable work, in the neighbourhood of the chapel in Albion- 
street. In early life he had borne the hootings and peltings of mobs 
while he delivered his evangelical message to the peasants of Lincoln- 


shire, in fields and lanes ; but in the populous town of Leeds, where 
religion has exerted so powerful an influence upon all classes, he found 
the people as serious and devotional in the open air as in the most 
splendid temple ; and the zeal and simplicity with which he conducted 
the entire service were admired by those who had the privilege of being 

On his return from the conference Mr. Watson addressed the follow- 
ing kind and characteristic letter to his daughter, still in Paris : — 

Aug. 31st, 1824. 

My Dearest Child, — I had written to you when yours of yesterday 
arrived ; and as I did not send it to the post, I now substitute this in 
its place. I have had a severe bilious attack since conference ; from 
which, however, I am almost entirely recovered. It laid me aside 
for a fortnight, and was very severe. In consequence, business has 
got so much into arrear, that it is not at all likely that I can get to see 
you in September, or even not till the end of October. As I am thus 
disappointed in not being with you at the holidays, I wish you to look 
about you as much as you can, and shall therefore give you leave to 
spend as much money as is necessary for your gratification. I hope 
you are getting on well in your studies. 

We are nearly settled at No. 6, Myddleton-square, Spafields ; and 
only want you to complete our comforts. We sacrifice this for your 
benefit ; and the time is now fast running away, when we trust to be 
brought together again, and to bless the Lord for his goodness. 

My dear child, cleave to God in heart. Forget him not for a mo- 
ment. Keep that good thing which has been committed to you ; and 
never be unfaithful to your God and Father, who alone is the God of 
your youth, and the guide of your life. Forget not your Bible and 
your prayers. Your mother sends her love. Our joint blessing be 
upon you. My dear Mary, 

I am your ever affectionate father. 

The following letter is not dated ; but it appears to have been writ- 
ten a few weeks after the former : — 

My Dearest Child, — This morning we received yours. That to 
which you refer has not come to hand. Your mother is too much 
occupied to write ; and as I am confined at home, I supply her place 
on the only piece of letter paper I have, and that half a sheet. To 
put the most into my small room, I must observe the signs of method. 

1. You wish me to determine about your coming home at Christmas. 
We want you much, and you wish to return. So then let it be set- 
tled, — Home at Christmas. 

2. As to health. I am quite an asthmatic invalid, and fear there- 
fore that I shall not be well enough to come to fetch you ; but if we 
can meet with an escort with whom you might be entrusted to Dover, 
I will endeavour to meet you there. In the meantim